Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 22 minutes, Director – Raine Allen-Miller
Twenty-somethings Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) help each other embrace moving on from their respective recently broken up relationships over the course of one day in the streets of South London.
There’s a strong sense of the 90s indie scene within director Raine Allen-Miller’s feature directorial debut Rye Lane. The natural dialogue of Clerks meets the free-roaming scenery and relationship of Before Sunrise in modern day London. As we see twenty-something strangers Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson) roaming around South London there’s a fine sense of place. A clear feeling that the pair know the area well yet are aimlessly wandering and exploring as they go.
Fantasy and flashbacks leak into the real world – not just in terms of a box of popcorn travelling from memory into a scene of conversation – with great effect. It heightens the relationship between the two strangers as they open up over the course of a day about their recently broken-up relationships – the reason for their meeting being Yas having overheard Dom crying in the toilets at a friend’s art exhibition. In general there’s an interesting nature to Allen-Miller’s directorial style which engages you with the characters and the world of the film, alongside giving the film itself a distinct personality. Not just in terms of the way the scenery looks and is captured but also what’s happening in it. There’s so much happening in one moment alongside the main course of the narrative and conversation, even if just hints of details in the background further impacting the events and emphasising the bustling nature of the setting.
Jonsson and Oparah are excellent as the two leads. Bursting with energy and chemistry they bring Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia’s dialogue to life and add to the distinct freewheeling style of the film. It’s easy to get caught up within the connected roaming from place to place as the pair recover from their relationships whilst also trying to reclaim items from them – for Yas it’s a vinyl copy of one of her favourite albums. The fast-flowing nature of the events further caught in the short 82 minute run-time which manages to effectively build-up the relationship, engage you in it and take you and the central figures to so many places without feeling overstuffed. Instead charting a natural course of progression through the developments and conversations.
From that first proper click where the laughs start rolling in this consistently hilarious ride there’s an energy fuelled by a love for what’s on display. A care and passion for the locations and culture that we see throughout. Allen-Miller understands just how to allow this to further fuel the events and embeds each scene into those facts making for something of a celebration throughout the film, particularly during a number of particularly joyous scenes; whether through humour or the upbeat energy on display. There’s a lot to love about Rye Lane. Capturing the creativity and natural dialogue of plenty of 90s indie gems while very much embedding itself in the 21st century.
Early on, when sat opposite Dom’s ex (Karene Peter) and best friend (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni) – now very happily in their own official relationship – Yas appears at the restaurant to help Dom out. When telling a fake story about how the pair met at karaoke they start to chant their names, beginning to match each other’s rhythm. “Dom and Yas, Yas and Dom. Dom and Yas, Yas and Dom”. It’s early in the film, but you really want to join in.
Fuelled with natural dialogue and performances there’s a lot to love about Rye Lane’s celebration of its location and culture. Consistently hilarious and overflowing with creativity giving the film its own distinct style and personality, hopefully one to become a future British classic.