From: Silver Screen
REVIEW: ‘Rye Lane’ is a charming technicolor rom-com delight
The first great British rom-com of the 2020s has arrived; “Rye Lane” is a delightful, subversive and visually stunning instant classic.
The film opens with a beautiful overhead shot of a man crying in a stall inside a gender-neutral bathroom, and what follows is an endearing twist on the classic meet-cute. Dom and Yas, played by David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah respectively, meet in that bathroom at their mutual friend’s art exhibition. From there they go on a long walk through South London, with sumptuous panoramic views accompanying their blossoming relationship. Soon they realize they're both emotionally reeling after bad breakups and end up helping each other get the closure they both deserve by engaging in hijinks with their respective exes.
The lush technicolor palette, which adds touches of neon and pastel to the classic London backdrop, especially elevates this standard meet cute. There are absurdist flourishes throughout that make the relatively quick 82 minute runtime zip by in no time at all. By the time audiences finish it, they’ll be going back for a rewatch to catch all the quirky details and gags they may have missed the first time around.
Not since Hugh Grant’s 90s rom-coms has London been better utilized on film, and South London setting became a character unto itself.
A particularly clever nod to the film’s cinematic forebearers shows up in a delightful cameo by Colin Firth serving the central love interests at a Mexican restaurant named after “Love Actually.” A Bridget Jones lookalike shows up later in the film in a tongue-in-cheek visual reference to Renée Zellweger’s iconic character. The filmmakers clearly learned from the best.
A rom-com is only as good as its central couple, and the chemistry between newcomers Jonsson and Oparah is off the charts. They imbue Dom and Yas with a grounded realness that is sorely lacking in the almost corporatized rom-com industry of late. On paper, Yas, an aspiring costume designer, and Dom, an accountant, couldn't be more opposite, and that’s what makes their unlikely pairing all the more swoonworthy. They understand each other and care for each other in ways their ex-partners never could. They’re also simply phenomenal performers, and here’s hoping they both go on to make more rom-coms together.
There are so many moments that elicit genuine belly laughs. In one particularly hilarious scene Dom ends up with his hands in the underwear drawer of Yas’ ex-boyfriend’s parents. A breezy levity courses through the whole film.
“Rye Lane” is also a refreshingly honest depiction of the start of a relationship, and even amidst the hilarious flashbacks and cutaways, there’s a natural back and forth between the stars that gives the film the authenticity of a documentary. The stunning cinematography often puts the viewer side by side on street level view with Yas and Dom. The colorful delights of the film are endless. It's a visually inventive treat for viewers tired of the same old rom-com cliches. The fish eye shots of the street further add to the quirky indie charm.
As Yas says in one of the film’s wonderful cutaways, “there are two types of people in this world, the ones who wave at boats and the ones who hate fun.” For those who love fun, “Rye Lane” will prove delightful. It’s easy to see it ending up on year-end best lists come December.
This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs, Kylie Bill and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Sophia Rocha and Stella Guzik.