Rye Lane movie review: Peckham plays host to the rom-com of the year

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David Jonsson’s not just talented, he’s smart. Like fellow Brits Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Comer, he chooses edgy projects with universal appeal. Luminous in HBO/BBC series Industry, the 28-year-old is just as radiant in a lovely film about Peckham that’s widely (and rightly) being called the rom-com of the year.

He’s Dom, an imaginative but tortoise-shy accountant who – when we first meet him – is sobbing in a public loo. Thanks to a conversation he has with energetic stranger Yas (a superb Vivian Oparah), we found out that Dom’s pining for his old girlfriend, who cheated on him with his best friend.

Dom and Yas (who has her own issues with an ex) wind up spending the rest of the day together, discussing everything from the joys of cheap nuggets to the horror of chatting to your loved one on FaceTime and suddenly realising she’s cheating. The pair are hooked on the past. But, given the chance, might these goof-balls develop a taste for each other?

Though Rye Lane was made with Disney money, the vibe is more indie-movie/Channel 4 sitcom than slick blockbuster – with a bit of screwball comedy thrown in.

 (Chris Harris)
(Chris Harris)

Dom definitely owes something to Cary Grant’s character in Bringing Up Baby. As for wannabe costume designer Yas, she’s a law unto herself. This woman is a fan of flamboyant, idiosyncratic and super-comfy garb (she has no truck with teeny, tiny thongs). Neither “adorable”, feisty” or “klutzy”, she’s prone to lying, uses the ‘c’ word and can be mean. In other words, she’s a jumble of good and bad qualities, in other words still, she’s human.

If Peckham is not synonymous, for everyone, with great beauty, first-time director Raine Allen Miller (whose Jamaican granny introduced her to the delights of south London), certainly manages to make it look stunning.

The film is awash with aquarium-bright colours. That, along with quirky camera-angles, multiple flash-backs and stand-out musical sequences (a love-lorn man eloquently miming to Sign Your Name; Dom and Yas, at a karaoke night, performing Salt-N-Pepa’s Shoop), ensures there’s no danger of Rye Lane being static, wordy or drab.

For decades, Richard Curtis has been the king of British comedy. Rye Lane hints, via a clever cameo, that change is in the air. Yesss! Allen Miller’s arrived. Let her reign begin.

In cinemas

82mins, cert PG