Raine Allen-Miller’s debut feature film Rye Lane is a refreshing and unique take on the RomCom genre, and I will be forever glad I saw it.
The movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2023, and since it received such a positive reception, I was excited to see it when it was fully released. On March 31st, Rye Lane was released on Disney+, and I made sure to sit down and watch it as soon as possible, and it did not disappoint.
In South London, Dom has recently been broken up with by his girlfriend of 6 years, and he stops at a friend’s art exhibition before he goes to dinner with his ex-girlfriend and her new partner for ‘closure’. At this exhibition, the distraught Dom meets the forever upbeat and carefree Yas, and they start a conversation about their mutual friend’s art, before walking out together and becoming acquainted. What follows is a highly stylised, beautifully crafted journey, where Dom and Yas bond over their ex-partners and meet a wonderful cast of side characters.
Rye Lane, directed by Raine Allen-Miller, 2023.
David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah, who play Dom and Yas respectively, have excellent chemistry, and the well-written jokes and banter emphasises the connection between the two. Rye Lane is composed of many interesting shots, such as the opening shot comprised of a moving camera with a birds-eye view into several toilet stalls, showing a series of dioramas and giving insights into the lives of some of the people at the exhibition. The camera then stops, and the funky music cuts as Dom sits in his stall, sobbing.
One of my favourite filmmaking techniques used in Rye Lane is a wide-angle lens that stretches the sides of the frame and makes the centre appear larger. This lens, along with a dynamic camera, gives really nice shots of Yas and Dom moving through the alleys and streets of London, it gives the impression that these characters are going on a journey together, is also adds to the whimsical atmosphere of the film.
Rye Lane’s soundtrack is an eclectic mix of slow pop music, rap songs and peaceful, melodic tones. The music does a great job of enhancing each scene and contributes to the chaotic vibe of the film. The film’s colour absolutely pops without being garish or hard to look at, adding to the unique and joyful feel of the movie.
Every aspect of filmmaking that went into Rye Lane is cohesive and makes for such a good viewing experience. The shot composition, framing, sound design/music, costumes and performances all complement each other. I’ve mentioned the vibe/atmosphere of the movie several times, and that’s a result of everything working together perfectly, it’s as if the director is perfectly guiding you through this experience and, without any effort, you totally understand what the movie is going for.
Another one of the elements of Rye Lane that I enjoyed a lot was the flashbacks that took the character into the scenario that they were describing. One in particular feels like a stage play, with the framing of the scene making you feel like you’re in the audience of a live performance.
Rye Lane is a major step in a fresh, new direction for the genre. Hopefully, in the coming years, we will see a sort of renaissance of RomComs, where directors use their vision to not only deliver good romance and good jokes but also a unique viewing experience worthy of Academy Awards. But, for now, Rye Lane is enough for me.