“So apparently there are two types of people in this world. The ones who wave at boats, and the ones who hate joy.”


London romcoms have been synonymous with Richard Curtis for at least two decades, but that has limited their focus to a certain demographic — Rye Lane bursts beyond those boundaries with its young black protagonists walking the streets of Peckham. Opening with an awkward first meeting, Rye Lane uses the walk-and-talk connection of Before Sunrise to excellent effect as Yas and Dom bond over bad breakups. Two thirds of the film unfolds in a single day, resting on Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson’s engaging and sympathetic performances, with a series of amusing cameos as the day plays out. Rye Lane is the feature debut of not only director Raine Allen-Miller but also cinematographer Olan Collardy, allowing them to engage in considerable visual experimentation starting from the opening overhead pan across a series of very different London bathroom stalls. Collardy deploys extreme widescreen with distinctive lens distortion that wraps the characters in the vibrant personality of Rye Lane’s South London locations. He deliberately breaks framing rules, like placing empty space behind each character’s head in certain dialogue close-ups to make them feel closer together. Allen-Miller draws clear inspiration from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing in the way she presents her neighbourhood as its own character, but also the surrealism of Sorry To Bother You with Yas and Dom physically present as observers during flashbacks. In a year of impressive debuts from British female directors, she is certainly one to watch.