Rye Lane

The South London locales of Peckham and Brixton form the backdrop for this classical, yet refreshingly vibrant tale of opposites attracting in Raine Allen-Miller’s directorial debut, Rye Lane. Two young Londoners turn a chance meeting into an eventful on-foot expedition that sees the pair confronting their pasts and gradually opening themselves up to new possibilities.

When Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) first encounter each other, it’s less of a meet-cute and more of a weep-cute. Heartbroken in the wake of disocovering his girlfriend of 7 years has cheated on him with his best friend, Dom has seen better days and sits sobbing while doom scrolling through her social media posts in a toilet stall. His sobs are overheard by Yas, who later recognises him from his footwear and introduces herself. Unlike Dom, Yas hums with effervescent, chaotic energy, and it’s immediately clear that she’s the antithesis of Dom’s more passive mamma’s boy.

Despite Dom’s initial wariness of Yas’ overfamiliarity, the pair soon find themselves strolling down the eponymous Rye Lane, and it’s revealed that Dom is about to attend a dinner with his ex and best friend. This sets in motion a day-long quest across the city, not only to liberate Dom from his emotional baggage but to empower Yas to shake off her own insecurities.

The film’s strongest asset is its vivid storytelling. As the duo fills each other – and by extension, the audience – in on their previous situations, Allen-Miller toys with perspective, and the result presents as a series of cartoonish skits that move quickly and seamlessly between reality and fantasy. This device not only adds a lovely comedic edge to proceedings but also deepens the relatability of the characters, particularly in regard to Dom’s often awkward sense of self. While the skit-like nature of the comedy works well as a flashback or fantasy device, it occasionally wears thin in the second act, where the humour feels little more than scenes from a sketch show we’ve seen before.

Rye Lane itself is a place of venue of rich history as a cornerstone of Peckham’s identity. Depicted in British TV classics from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ to ‘Desmonds’, Peckham is a multicultural working-class hub brimming with markets, black hair shops and independent businesses. Though the area has become a lightning rod for gentrification, the film doesn’t directly engage with this discourse and chooses to keep its focus on highlighting a melting pot of people and cultures in all its glorious randomness.

From group yoga in the park, teens taking selfies in a grotty toilet, to the man in a shiny blue cowboy suit dancing through the shopping centre, each existing in the same few miles. These characters continue to decorate the frame as the love story of our leads unfolds and positions Rye Lane as an enjoyable slice of life in a capital filled with endless variety. Running at just 82 minutes, Rye Lane fills its brief time with an infectious sense of joy and hopefulness.

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A rom-com starring Industry’s David Jonsson? I’m listening.


Jonsson and Vivian Oparah have an easy chemistry that’s a delight to watch.


Fun and fresh with an appropriately sweet ending.


Directed by

Raine Allen-Miller


David Jonsson,

Vivian Oparah,

Poppy Allen-Quarmby

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