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Rye Lane Review

Short, sweet and giving South London a foundation for loved-up will-they, wont-they features. What a place to lose yourself. Literally. Heading out from Kings Cross Station and ending up in Soho when your destination was Canary Wharf, is quite the walk. It gives you time to appreciate how many coffee shops the place has. One of them had furniture that was made up solely of items more commonly associated with a children’s play area. South London is full of spirit and who knows where it can be found, Rye Lane appropriates that incredibly with the fear, screams and vomit of public toilets. Scrolling away through the pain is an inevitability that cements Rye Lane, like much of its versatile writing and well-cast romanticisms, in the real world. 

David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah make for a delightful pairing that comes through a happenstance encounter. Rye Lane is an extremely colourful and art-driven experience. It takes to the streets of London with an incredible love for the area. Raine Allen-Miller is convinced of those artsy individuals who parade the streets, swanning around art galleries that have less meaning in their art and more in the provocation big images can provide. Her static camera work, the focus on the person instead of the place, is a wonderful experience. It flows well and the writing is sharp, punctual, and upbeat. Flashes of gutsy artistry, lobster-clad brunches and the howls for help in a city that bleeds your heart and wallet dry, are as engaging as ever. But more of that comes from the deconstruction of the rom-com conventions.  

Defiant it may be in those new experiences, Rye Lane does not hold hate against them. Even its most powerful and sudden urges of anger and bitterness are filled with a flow that is usually reserved for higher-brow television comedies. Extending that into a feature film is quite the treat, the feel of Rye Lane dependent on the flair, the extreme close-ups of pressure from others and the low-hanging camera looking up to good people. Chance encounters have a way of bubbling over into experiences not initially sought after. Rye Lane understands the weird characters that wander the streets and markets, the harmless and glittery-coloured moments. Keeping that pace well with the back-and-forth between Oparah and Jonsson is crucial. Allen-Miller keeps that going steady and where Rye Lane has a few moments that cut back and feel like the overbearing colourful nature of car insurance adverts, most of it is nicely shot and, crucially, feels genuine. 

Refreshing in the face of a genre on the brink, a genre that has been for some time, Rye Lane is an explosive rarity. Not innovative, just what should be expected. Allen-Miller has found beauty in the soft underbelly of a vicious city. Love takes time and it builds itself well on Rye Lane, a rewarding and engaging piece. From its believable and everyday encounters that build themselves nicely, naturally, toward moments of shared madness to the direction that holds it all together, it turns out salvaging the romcom genre was just a matter of changing where a camera should be and what a character should say. Allen-Miller and the collection of strong performances that come through Rye Lane benefit from feeling fresh as opposed to the weak genre offerings, but it stands firm on its own too.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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