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‘Rye Lane’ review: Falling in love with Raine Allen-Miller’s debut film

By April 7, 2023No Comments4 min read
rye lane

Rye Lane is a vivid and charming romantic comedy available on Hulu from first time feature filmmaker Raine Allen-Miller.

Filmmaker Raine Allen-Miller delivers a sparkling feature film debut bursting in personality in Rye Lane. Charming and relentlessly vibrant, the film is both an ode to the rom-com genre while offering a revitalized take that looks to modernize while also honoring the iconic films that have come before it. For those looking for a film to jumpstart your romantic loving heart, this Hulu release is a must-watch. 

David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah (both superb) star as Dom and Yas, two twenty-somethings living in South London who are both still processing bad, recent break-ups. Meeting at a mutual friend’s gallery, the two hit it off and spend the day together as they attempt to help the other out with their exes, be it a boost of confidence or a stolen record. A walk-and-talk meet cute that harkens back to films such as Richard Linklater’s “Before Trilogy,” the script from Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia exemplifies a well-executed balance of tone. Accessorized with pulpy details and punchy set designs, the narrative remains steady, those extra elements managing to only further flavor what already is a visual feast. 

Blanketed in an effervescent cool and charged by the charisma of its stars, Rye Lane enchants from the first frame of Dom’s pink Converse to the plucky dialogue that spills out of Yas’s mouth uninhibited. Miller possesses an eye for capturing moments of magnetism, be it a fish-eye camera lens that focuses on the two leads, making them characters of their own private dialogue, or tête-à-tête that says as much about a given character’s personality as any exposition dump ever could. Possessed by a lean and clever script, the story moves at a steady pace, patient in learning the bits and pieces that make Dom and Yas tick, winded by the clip the scenery shifts and changes. 

Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson in RYE LANE. Photo by Chris Harris. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

An enormously enjoyable film.

Despite the backdrop changing constantly from karaoke bars and art galleries to cramped family homes and bougie, hollow apartments, to the many alley walls they stand against, the tonality of the film never changes. Despite the breakneck speed that the story plunges its characters through, there’s a consistency of mood and look that tethers it all together, showing a great diversity of setting while similarly keeping it anchored and connected to who Dom and Yas are, their specific vivacity spooling over into the design not just of their outfits but of everyone else’s garb. 

The triumph of the film lies mainly in the abundant draw of Dom and Yas. Dom’s an accountant who is genuinely happy being one, and Yas has ambitions of being a customer designer who understands she needs to pay her dues first. Cinematographer Olan Collardy basks the film as a perpetual magic hour glow, one that grows warmer as the two become closer throughout their tumultuous day spent together. 

Costume designers Cynthia Lawrence-John and Danielle Westwood pick purposeful pieces that allow what the characters don’t say to pop. Dom is reserved but wants to be open, even after the betrayal of his last relationship, the green of his jacket and pink shoes hint at a warmer person hiding behind logic and numbers. Meanwhile, Yas’s silhouettes while flattering are looser, and baggier, confirming her want and need to stand out in a crowd and feel proud about it, rather than needing to shy away, something she admits to doing when it comes to difficult interviews. The film’s gorgeous use of vivid colors is another push of life in what is already an enormously enjoyable film, even if the last ten minutes could’ve been hammered out better. 

“Just go where the breeze takes you.”

Beyond all of this though, Dom and Yas wouldn’t be as lovable without Jonsson and Oparah who dazzle with energy, him always taking hers in and hers spilling over as she speaks. It’s a strong dynamic that pushes and pulls at all the right triggers for growth and their romance defies the bitter disbelief that threads into these films because they’re so evenly matched that it’s inevitable they’d end up together, no matter whether or not a declaration of love was incorporated. 

Grossly enchanting, Rye Lane transforms the real world into a fairytale. The achievement of a great romantic comedy comes down to the ability to get viewers to see the world and all its mundanities through a more hopeful, curious gaze and Rye Lane accomplishes this and more, encouraging more stories that celebrate love. 

Rye Lane is available to stream now on Hulu. Watch the trailer below.

Featured Image Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

  • - 9/10
Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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