Directed by: Raine Allen-Miller
Starring: David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah
Run time: 1hr and 22mins
Where to watch: Hulu
Release date: March 31st, 2023
Synopsis: Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) bond over an eventful day in South London after discovering they are both recovering from bad breakups.
Would I recommend it?
Yes! This 2023 Sundance Film Festival selection checks all the boxes for a good rom-com movie, especially with the acting chops showcased by David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah. The tone and pacing of the film felt appropriate, I was at no point thrown off. Although their experience together took place in one day, it did feel like they had this journey over the course of at least a few days.
I have not been to South London, but from the looks of it, it is an excellent place to visit. This is all based on the amount of scenic exposure the director gives the audience. The environment looked spectacular. He did a good job of sucking the viewer into the locale. You almost feel like you’re there yourself.
The film pays tribute to the music of the ’70s, ’80s, and ‘90s with songs from each of these eras. I personally commend this because I love music from those periods. The nostalgia rushed over me when I heard back-to-back hit tracks during a backyard bbq scene.
I loved the chemistry between Jonsson and Oparah in this film. The dialogue between the two (including non-verbal cues) had me rooting for them to end up an item. Each brought the best out of the other, from the shy and broken Dom to the free-spirited yet delicate Yas. I haven’t felt this since Dwayne and Whitley from A Different World. I also enjoyed the lead characters’ interaction with the other personas in the film. For example, to me, the funniest moment was when Yas’ ex’s family appeared. They didn’t have much screen time but quickly had me laughing since they reminded me of my family hangouts. There was a sense of relatability that made this flick feel nostalgic.
Jonsson is already ascending in stardom, but I can for sure see Oparah as another rising star whom I wouldn’t mind watching in more projects. Oparah undoubtedly wins over the audience with her charming and fun personality.
What stands out in this film is how Allen-Miller uses color palettes and visuals to set the scene’s tones. For example, during flashbacks, the director uses darker purples and blues when a character reveals a heartbreaking story. The director cleverly sets up these flashbacks like stage plays where the characters are in the audience along with the movie’s viewers watching these memories play out. It’s one of my favorite things about the film; if I had to compare it to a style, I would say it resembles Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You”. I look forward to seeing more work from Allen-Miller and witnessing her career flourish as she becomes a household name.
Initially, I did not understand why the art gallery at the end featured portraits of naked butts, but as I thought about it further, I realized that the beginning of the film featured pictures of people’s mouths in the art gallery. I wonder if this is supposed to be symbolic of moving from start to finish as the viewer is introduced to the mouth in the film’s opening and then as we exit the film, we are shown bare naked bums. Clever.
This is one of the best rom-com I’ve seen in a while! If you loved Brown Sugar, Love and Basketball, or Love Jones, Rye Lane is a film definitely worth your time. I can just about guarantee it’ll be added to your list of top Black rom-coms. With loveable characters, creative cinematography, and a heart-warming love story, Rye Lane is one of my favorite films of 2023 thus far.