By Sean Lawrenson, First Year, English
Raine Allen Miller’s directorial debut is a tale of coming to terms with bad breakups and finding happiness through heartbreak. Rye Lane (2023) fully embraces the rom-com genre, whilst successfully maintaining a fine balance between humour and emotional sincerity.
The first thing to note about Rye Lane is how visually striking it is. The first scene takes us through numerous toilet cubicles in a London gallery show. We see teenagers beating someone up, an old man asleep on the toilet and at last, a man walks into the cubicle, sits down, and starts breaking down in tears.
Dom (David Jonnson) has been broken up with by his girlfriend of six years for three months now, but just so happens to talk to Yas (Vivian Oprah) in the cubicle opposite. It is the classic beginning of most romcoms since the genre began; strangers meet in a random place (what are the odds!) and fall in love.
At this point of the film, I was sceptical in seeing how the story progressed. Would it lean further into these overdone, tiresome tropes? The answer to that is a resounding no.
There is a vibrancy to the film which off-sets the potentially more cliché moments, two strangers fall in love over the course of a day, yes, but the way the film deals with both character's breakups, recounting the past in a thoughtful and very funny way, is enough to keep the audience on board throughout.
The film is remarkably funny, several laugh-out-loud moments occur, with a highlight being the entirety of the restaurant scene, where Dom meets with his ex-girlfriend and the man she cheated on him with, his best friend. Several cut-aways explain how the relationship broke down, but the presence of either Yas, or later Dom, as onlookers gives the audience someone to watch along with.
There is also the beauty with which Miller presents London itself. The walks from location to location are full of people in the background either filming Tiktok dances or street musicians which filter into the film’s score (put together expertly by Kwes).
The colour palates are bright pastel yellows, pinks and baby blues which surround the two, at first seemingly compounding their misery, but also poking fun at it. The idea that things will get better is one the film delves into fully and gets great results from.
Every good rom-com relies, in one way or another, on the strength of the chemistry between its two leads, which is why the casting of this film deserves a lot of credit.
Jonnson and Oprah play their roles superbly, Jonnson as the gloomy, downtrodden counterpart to Yas’s bubbly, optimistic self. The way they bumble and bounce along the streets of Peckham provides enough of a relation point to the audience.
We can all identify with either Yas or Dom and have all been in the situation they have before, where lying on your bed all day eating Gregg’s sausage rolls is all you want to do for the rest of your life.
The film recognises these emotions and highlights their absurdities, whilst treating them with enough sensitivity so as to not mock them. It is why we come to feel so immensely attached to both characters and through all the nuanced techniques Miller employs, they are able to create a film which throws itself into a genre which has for so long been portrayed as overdone and sappy, in the process creating a thoroughly enjoyable ninety minutes.
Featured Image: Courtesy of IMDB
Did you enjoy the chemistry between Yas and Dom?