November 28, 2023 – Most romantic comedies are not successful, either as romances, or comedies, so it is delightful to encounter a rare exception to the rule in “Rye Lane.” This engaging contemporary British romantic comedy set in South London, is also an impressive feature directoral debut by Raine Allen-Miller.
Dom (played by David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) meet in the unlikliest of places, adjoining stalls in a unisex public bathroom. Dom, suffering from a broken heart is sobbing in his stall and Yas feels sorry for him. Yas is smart, energetic and funny. She tries to cheer Dom up, and helps him out of an awkward meeting that same day with his ex-girlfriend, Gia (Karene Peter of the “Call the Midwife” TV series) who has hooked up with his former best friend, Eric (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni).
Dom and Yas spend the rest of the day together in the South London areas of Peckham and Brixton, including the Rye Lane Market. They engage in witty banter as Dom comes out of his broken hearted shell. It turns out that Yas has also emerged from a breakup with an artist, Jules (Malcolm Atobrah of “Red, White & Royal Blue”). They decide to get even with Jules.
During the long day Dom and Yas spend together, they engage in a wide variety of activities, including breaking and entering, theft, motor scooter rides, a karaoke performance, and finally, an argument that causes them to split up, at least temporarily. There is a lot going on in this movie, with both Dom and Yas trying to hide from parts of their past, as well as trying to forge a new friendship.
Their long, eventful day together made a big impression on both Yas and Dom. It takes some time in the weeks that follow before both of them can process their feelings about what happened between them. It was not love at first sight, but the feelings they shared developed pretty fast. After they had both burned by love, they were wary at the prospect of trying it again so soon.
This reflection, and this consideration of the pitfalls of love is what makes this an adult love story. This is not love at first sight, throwing all caution to the wind. This is love, tempered by experience, with due consideration of consequences. David Jonsson) and Vivian Oparah give very strong, believable performances, anchoring this movie, and they are helped by good supporting performances.
This is a warm, whimsical, thoughtful romantic comedy, written by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia, is well worth seeking out. Part of its charm is the effective use of locations in South London, effectively lensed by Olan Collardy. It rates a B+.
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