‘Rye Lane’ review: quirky south London-set update to the romcom formula

Prepare to be swept off your feet by Peckham's most likeable new lovers

Rye Lane might lack the big budget and starry cast of its Hollywood rivals, but when your two leads boast the kind of chemistry that fizzes between David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah that doesn’t matter. Forget You People or Ticket To Paradise, this indie love story is a higher class of romcom.

Set largely in the south London streets of Peckham, Rye Lane follows budding lovebirds Dom (Industry’s Jonsson) and Yas (Oparah). Dom is a heartbroken romantic and Yas is a fierce wannabe costume designer who tries to hide the emotional chinks in her armour. They meet, as lovers often do, in a weird way. While attending her friend Nathan’s photography exhibition, Yas stumbles upon Dom crying in the public unisex toilet, “trying to have a private moment”. Yes, it’s odd to meet your new beau in the bogs but this is just the start of Rye Lane’s unique interpretation of what love can be. Together, Dom and Yas make for an outrageously quirky and entertaining couple.

It all ramps up from there. The two go galavanting down the film’s titular winding street, as Yas assumes the role of Dom’s girlfriend to fob off his cheating ex; and Dom helps to liberate Yas’ favourite vinyl record from her snooty former boyfriend. Debutant director Raine Allen-Miller uses a lurid colour grading to make these interactions (and the cultural hotspot’s iconic locations) really pop. Throw in some slapstick comedy, clever cut-away shots and extreme close-ups through a fish-eye lens and Rye Lane makes for one of the year’s most visually inventive movies.


Elsewhere, quick cameos from famous names like Colin Firth, Michael ‘Big Shaq’ Dapaah and fast-rising comedian Munya Chawawa (who provides a hilarious moment involving a toy keyboard and an awkward date) keep the action lively. You never know who might be lurking around the corner on Rye Lane (but they’ll probably be a celeb).

Flashy though these cameos are, they aren’t what makes Rye Lane special. Unlike scmaltzy American romcoms, Allen-Miller never oversells the romance as something bigger than two Londoners out enjoying a crazy day together. Instead, she takes an everyday love story about normal people and injects some big-screen fun into it. Dom and Yas’ adventure proves that, with the help of a banging soundtrack (Stormzy, Craig David, A Tribe Called Quest), ordinary people can find love just as easily as George Clooney or Julia Roberts. Be ready for the ride that comes afterwards though.


  • Director: Raine Allen-Miller
  • Starring: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah, Colin Firth
  • Release date: March 17 (in cinemas)

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