It’s something of a national embarrassment that the country that produced Shakespeare and Jane Austen has failed to muster a half-decent rom-com in over 100 years (let’s draw a discrete veil for now across the work of Richard Curtis). So the fizzing, funny, irresistible spree of Rye Lane is cause for hats in the air. Following the freshly single Yas and Dom from their meet-cute in some art gallery loos, through the streets, markets, parks and bars of Peckham and Brixton, Raine Allen-Miller’s debut feature does for south London what Jacques Demy did for Cherbourg, what Richard Linklater did for Vienna, what Spike Lee did for Bed-Stuy.
Though not a musical as such – though tracks by A Tribe Called Quest and Terence Trent D’Arby among others feature on a memorable soundtrack – this is a film that feels artfully scored and choreographed to the music of the everyday, where sound systems, sneakers, shopfront graffiti and spring blossom all rhyme like the smoothest flow.
The script, by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia, maybe best know for BBC3’s hit-and-miss Famalam, is similarly on- point, capturing the awkward comedy of everything from pretentious private views (“teeth are the Stonehenge of the face” says one artworld hypebeast) to family barbecues and first kisses. “You know you’re very…” begins David Jonsson’s Dom, trying to put his finger on just what intrigues him about Vivian Oparah’s knockout Yas, as they wander through an indoor market. “Peng? Disarmingly refreshing?” she offers, twirling through the shoe racks. Rye Lane is without doubt the pengest, most
disarmingly refreshing British comedy you will see this year.