Cert - 15, Run-time - 1 hour 22 minutes, Director - Raine Allen-Miller
Twenty-something strangers Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) help each other embrace moving on from their respective relationships.
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. There’s a fine sense of place as twenty-something strangers Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson) roam South London. 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 popcorn box jumping from memory into actual conversation - with great effect. Heightening the relationship between the central pair as they open up over the course of a day about their recently-broken-up-relationships. Allen-Miller’s direction helps bring a distinct style to the film, not just adding to the scenery but everything that’s happening in and amongst it. There’s plenty happening in the background of one moment to emphasise the core point of the scene at any one time, further adding to the film’s personality.
Jonsson and Oparah push this through their natural delivery of Nathan Byron and Tom Melia’s dialogue. Capturing the distinct freewheeling style and celebration of the area and various figures who crop up throughout the film. It’s easy to connect with the connected racing from place to place as the pair recover from relationships while also reclaiming items from them - for Yas it’s her favourite album on vinyl which she left behind.
The fast-flowing nature is further caught in the short eighty two minute run-time which effectively builds up the relationship, engages you in it and the various places and areas we visit without feeling overstuffed. Again, it all feels so natural within the energy which is created. Charting the developments through the conversations and character details.
From the first proper click there are plenty of laughs to be had here. Rye Lane is a consistently hilarious piece of work, which never feels as if it treads into standard rom-com territory, fuelled by a love for what’s on display. Care and passion for the characters and locations are embedded into each scene helping to form that aforementioned celebratory feel; particularly during a number of especially joyous scenes, whether through humour or the upbeat energy on display. Capturing the creative and natural dialogue of those 90s indie gems while being firmly rooted in the 21st century.
Early on, when sat opposite Dom’s ex (Karene Peter) and (probably former) best friend (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni) - now very happily in their own official relationship - Yas appears at the restaurant to help Dom out. Detailing a fake story about how the pair met at karaoke they start to chant their names, beginning to match each other’s rythym. “Dom and Yas, Yas and Dom. Dom and Yas, Yas and Dom”. It’s early in the film, and you really want to join in.
Jamie Skinner - Five stars