As documented in the series of films from Steve McQueen a couple of years ago London, England has a neighborhood that is mainly made up of island people from Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other island municipalities of Great Britain. Rye Lane is a real street in this section of South London in Peckham and Brixton and it’s another Sundance film that was bought by Searchlight Pictures and will air on Hulu in March. This is an early review.
Dom (David Jonsson) is a man that is crying in a bathroom when a woman named Yas (Vivian Oparah) comes in to use it. She lets him know it’s a multiplex bathroom, but she hears him crying and asks if he’s okay. When he comes out he starts walking around the art show he’s at for his friend who did all the art. That consists of lips and various parts of the mouth. She sees him and walks up to him and they start talking. They go outside and go for a walk that lasts all day.
The fun part of the walk is the two young people get to know each other and tell each other their various breakup stories. Dom saw his girl on a video call with his best friend in the background naked and Vivian said she left her boyfriend because he was more concerned with his art than her. It’s a typical romantic quandary. Two people who meet up accidentally have similar breakup stories. Part of what makes the romantic angle so good is where they go and who they run into on their journey.
This street is like a character in the film. They go to various shops and inside malls along their walk. They even stop and get a burrito. And the man who serves it to them is an academy award-winning actor who will not spoil in this review. I was very surprised to see this man in the film. The rest of the cast is pretty in smaller times as well. The journey though was fun because of the look of this street. The cinematography by Olan Collardy was gorgeous. The colors of the shops and walls and everything in between jumped off the screen.
The story was kind of funny because there were a couple of different tricks the director, Raine Allen Miller, used to tell this tale of these two twenty-somethings. One of them was using scenes where the man or woman was explaining their situation while the actual situation was going on at the same time in the scene. It was a little strange but it worked very well in the context of the movie. Another was a rewind section with music playing over it. That was to document the time that the two spent walking together all day. These were effective tools in the way Miller told the story.
As I said various other folks pop into the film namely the exes of the two main characters. These scenes were done in a more fun way than the rest of the film. This is where the comedy comes in the romantic comedy. The exes were a bit odd and so were the main character’s friends and family members who show up in some parts of the movie. There were a couple of funny karaoke scenes as well. All around the cast was pretty good in big parts and little ones.
Rye Lane is a delightful little film that hits on a subsection of London that is rarely seen in the film. This duo is equally delightful in its own way. They have quirky things about them regarding their personalities and their friends and family. The two breakups were the perfect inciting incidents that got these two people together and it was magic on screen. They both shined in their various roles but the real winner in this movie was the location in the title. The cinematography was breathtakingly gorgeous. And it was nice to see this area get the spotlight shined on it. This will be a fun film for people to watch when it comes out on Hulu in March. Keep your eyes open for it.
This film premiered at Sundance 2023 but will be seen on Hulu in March
Dan Skip Allen