Raine Allen-Miller’s Rye Lane is a British romcom that oozes with love and life, seeping through a dreamy haze of Brixton. It’s a vibrant and audacious masterpiece that pulsates with a diverse range of beats and colors. From the opening shot of an aerial flight over unisex restrooms, Rye Lane revels in its own unique and captivating beauty, creating an immersive experience that’s both overwhelming and intimate. The film captures the essence of community, celebrating the love found in South London’s brightest boroughs and beyond. Written by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia, Rye Lane’s narrative unfolds in a single day, traversing a circumference that’s entirely reachable on foot. The film presents a zany panorama of characters whose exchanges range from the witty to the profound, and the astute to the downright hilarious. Rye Lane is undoubtedly the best British romcom in recent times, and it’s a testament to the power of a film that feels the love its story tells.

Rarely does a film strike such a perfect balance of broad, occasionally slapstick humor – keep an eye out for a hilariously funny cameo from a rom-com legend in a burrito bar named Love Guac’tually – with quick-witted observational insight and quietly powerful emotional intelligence. The film cleverly plays on the gag that one of the leads seems to know everyone in Brixton, simply by confidently extending conversation beyond a simple “hello.” By contrast, the genuine surprise of the other lead lays bare the harsh reality of contemporary social disintegration.

Vivian Oparah is nothing short of sensational as one of the leads, with David Jonsson proving to be a worthy match in his role. Together, they play Yas and Dom, a glorious pairing that emanates electric chemistry, bouncing around the insular framing of cinematographer Olan Collardy’s warped lenses. The fishbowl aesthetic serves to hold Yas and Dom within their own unique and self-contained universe, with the manipulation and centralization of focus complementing the film’s interest in fate. The film explores what it means to be in the right place at the right time to truly see things in their sharpest relief. It is a chance encounter – “of all the toilets in all of London” – that gifts Yas and Dom their meet-cute, but one that changes everything.

Yas and Dom’s first encounter takes place on opposite sides of a toilet cubicle door. Yas overhears Dom crying over pictures of his ex and her new partner, while she herself is attending a pretentious exhibition of mouths. Dom is set to have lunch with his selfish ex and her friend Eric, who Yas joins after spinning a quick tale about being a hopeless romantic. Both Yas and Dom have recently gone through messy breakups, with Yas realizing her ex was not the type to wave back at passing boats. Throughout their twelve-hour adventure, they connect and help each other find closure while determining whether they are “wave-back” people or not. The episodes blend together seamlessly, providing a comforting experience akin to warm honey or a cozy fire.

Rye Lane manages to avoid cliché, thanks to the exceptional rising talent in British cinema. Allen-Miller’s energetic production is fast-paced and creatively experimental, with a keen sense of sight and sound. The film’s vibrant bursts of color bring to life the love story of three individuals, immersing the audience in the world of Yas and Dom. This dazzling film is not to be missed – a world you’ll want to be a part of.

By Lucy

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