Rye Lane REVIEW – Infectiously Charming

Looking for a new rom-com to enjoy? Look no further.

Rye Lane
Rye Lane

I wouldn’t say there’s been a paucity of rom-coms in recent years, but it’s hard to find good and rewatchable ones. So it’s fantastic news for all us rom-com fans now that Rye Lane’s dropped on Hulu. It’s perfectly charming, with two wonderful leads, and makes great use of its South London setting.

As we rom-com die-hards know, we always begin with the meet-cute. In When Harry Met Sally, it’s a carpool situation between strangers, while in Set It Up, it’s a negotiation over take-out. For Rye Lane, our romantic leads meet in the bathroom. Dom (David Jonsson) is crying over his ex, and Yas (Vivian Oparah) is in the cubicle beside him, awkwardly peeing through his blubbering. They’re both at an art show, and when Yas spots Dom outside the toilet afterwards – recognising him as the toilet crier because of his shoes – she decides to be nice to him to take his mind off his pain.

Their conversation takes them all over South London, and director Raine Allen Miller showcases all these charming, romantic nooks prevalent in the space. Dom shares his woes with Yas, detailing how his relationship fell apart so spectacularly. It’s a dramatic retelling, where we’re shown the events playing out as he relates them to Yas. As they rattle back and forth, stopping to try on sneakers at a random shop or take a rest, we watch with a small smile on our faces, enamoured with their effervescent chemistry and charm.

Both Jonsson and Oparah are able to be so infectiously funny, yet also flesh out the more vulnerable sides of their characters. Dom wears his heart on his sleeve more, willing to be vulnerable and open with this stranger he just met, while Yas is more guarded. She wants to convey this impression of a fun, cool chick – which she is – yet she’s also suppressing the more painful aspects of her past relationship.

And if you’ve ever had a conversation like this, you know that you’ll do anything to prolong the moment. We see this happening for Yas, who tries to get herself invited to Dom’s meetup with his ex Gia (Karene Peter) and her new beau. However, Dom’s too focused on his pain and the probable awkwardness of the meeting to agree. But we know that Yas won’t take no for an answer, and her impulsive crashing leads to such a satisfying outcome, one that we all wish we could have had when meeting up with an ex. Also, what I love about Miller’s film is that it doesn’t attempt to villainize anyone. Yes Gia cheated when she should have communicated, but that doesn’t make her a bad person.

After this hurdle is taken care of, Dom and Yas resume their tour of the city, stopping for Mexican food – where we’re treated to a cameo from the romance king himself Colin Firth – and heading to a karaoke joint to get the keys for Yas’ former apartment. The colour palette of all these interiors are gorgeous and so rom-com-esque, and contributes heavily to the romantic mood and atmosphere. But after being treated to so many cute moments between Dom and Yas, any rom-com fan worth their salt will know that the inevitable conflict approaches, and they must overcome it together.

The problem that some rom-coms face is when they create a conflict too immense to overcome, that even though it’s seemingly taken care of, the resolution just doesn’t sit well because there’s so many things left unaddressed. I’m glad to say that Rye Lane doesn’t fall into this trap, creating a reasonable conflict that can be easily resolved by the movie’s end. We even get a public declaration of love that feels absolutely sweet instead of cringey.

The most wonderful thing about Rye Lane is that Yas and Dom feel like real people falling in love in real time. Oftentimes rom-coms can feel so over the top and fantastical that we label it something that only happens in the movies. But Rye Lane is real and magical, all at the same time.

Review screener provided.

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Rye Lane
It's not easy to make a good rom-com. You need wit, winsome leads, chemistry, and a memorable setting. Rye Lane has all of the above, and then some.