Sparks do not fly when twenty-something Dom (David Jonsson), who has dreamt of becoming an accountant since his childhood, meets Yas (Vivian Oparah), an aspiring costume designer who played dress-up to look like Purple Rain Prince as a kid, in the gender-neutral bathroom of a gallery. They are arguably at their worst — Yas happens to listen in on Dom sobbing in the adjacent stall while looking at his ex-girlfriend’s Instagram stories; newly single, Yas grasps his emotional state, takes pity on him and gets him to go out on a stroll in Rye Lane.
Over the course of their very long stroll, Dom confesses that he has moved back into his parents’ house and is surviving on video games and boiled eggs after his ex-girlfriend cheated on him with Eric (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni), his childhood best friend. Yas in turn shares that she decided to pull the plug on her relationship when her former partner refused to wave back at passengers in boats floating on the Thames. Over the next few hours, the duo confide in each other and stash away their secrets and misgivings and embrace vulnerability. I’m sure fans of Before Sunrise can already tell where this is heading. The duo occasionally take to chaos to deal with their melancholy — Yas crashes Dom’s meeting with his ex-girlfriend while Dom helps Yas break into her former boyfriend’s house to steal a vinyl of a prized album.
Rye Lane (English)
From the get-go, Rye Lane’s pacing is its biggest advantage, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats even though the story is formulaic with its three-act structure which includes a (believable) third-act conflict. The comedy is on point and laugh-out-loud lines like “teeth are the Stonehenge of the face” complement the pacing.
Just like Rye Lane, Yas and Dom are vibrant and clothed in bright colours. Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia’s poetic screenplay accentuates their quirks and presents one of the most compelling contemporary romantic films. Even though Yas is delightful in her eccentricities she never fits into the manic pixie dream girl trope. Olan Collardy’s camerawork is fluid and captures Rye Lane in all its glory. A surprise cameo by an A-list actor as the chef at Love Guac’tually, a local burrito place, works as a comforting hat-tip to the famous and ever-beloved Richard Curtis directorial.
It is, however, David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah’s acting that works as a cupid’s arrow for the 82-minute-long movie that received a warm reception at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Yas and Dom complement each other: while Yas is loud and proud, Dom is an introvert whose silent passivity does not dampen his energy.
London is home to some of the most popular romantic comedies but it is especially enlivening to see a black couple make their mark in its lanes.
Rye Lane is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar