Film Review: “Rye Lane” Puts a Fresh Twist on the Romantic Comedy Formula

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. That’s the basic structure of any heterosexual romantic comedy, and while it may be a tale as old as time, we never tire of it. The caveat is that we’re constantly in need of fresh takes on the formula. Thankfully, Rye Lane is as fresh of a take as you can get. Having premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, this South London romantic comedy is heading to Hulu on March 31st courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

(Searchlight Pictures)

(Searchlight Pictures)

Dom (David Jonsson) is in emotional turmoil after his ex-girlfriend left him for his best friend. When he meets Yas (Vivian Oparah), who is also recently single, he is captivated by her main-character energy and refusal to feel like a victim. Together, they set off on a whirlwind day and night on Rye Lane that will find each of them bearing their souls to one another in pursuit of everlasting love.

Rye Lane moves at a brisk pace, with fast dialogue creating a frantic and intriguing opening sequence. Thankfully, the pace slows down as Dom’s anxieties ease with Yas. Director Raine Allen-Miller uses vibrant colors and unusual framing to keep the film visually interesting the entire time. And when the inevitable “boy loses girl” portion of the story arrives, the colors are pulled back to effectively give audiences that feeling that the world isn’t whole anymore.

David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah have undeniable chemistry and make you root for them as a couple. The supporting cast also knocks their parts out of the park, with Benjamin Sarpong-Broni standing out as Dom’s best mate Eric. His character is basically a dog in a human’s body, and he’s so likable and charming that you can’t hate him for shacking up with Dom’s girlfriend. She’s played by Karene Peter, who has the challenge of flipping between seeming so in love with Eric and yet so jealous of Yas when she sees Dom moving on.

Rye Lane has such a distinct style and artistic vision that it’s likely to be studied for decades to come. It’s arthouse, yet mainstream all at the same time. Screenwriters Nathan Bryon & Tom Melia have found a fresh way to approach the romantic comedy genre while celebrating the regional-specific Black joy of South London. Like most major cities, London has had its share of gentrification, but the Rye Lane area has remained a haven for African and Caribbean culture. Full of cultural specificity, Rye Lane is like taking a trip to an area of London that is rarely celebrated in mainstream media.

I give Rye Lane 5 out of 5 stars.

Rye Lane will be available to stream on Hulu beginning March 31st.

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).