Sundance movie review: 'Rye Lane' is a hilarious, romantic day trip

Dom (David Jonsson) spends a day in London with Yas (Vivian Oparah). Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
1 of 4 | Dom (David Jonsson) spends a day in London with Yas (Vivian Oparah). Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Rye Lane, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, harkens back to the early days of indie films when people made movies about people just talking. The new film adds a few flourishes to break up the dialogue, both of which work.

Dom (David Jonsson) is crying in the bathroom over his breakup with Gia (Karene Peter) when Yas (Vivian Oparah) overhears him. Dom and Gia spend the day walking around London getting to know each other and helping each other move forward.


With a man and woman walking around the city, Rye Lane feels like a British Richard Linklater movie. Instead of his Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight walk and talks, Dom and Yas enjoy a stroll and talk through London locations.

Rye Lane does not rely entirely on Dom and Yas's dialogue though. As they tell each other their stories, the film flashes back to the respective breakups they each describe.

Additionally, Dom reacts to Yas's story, and vice versa, in cinematic fantasies. For example, an audience full of Doms intently watches Yas's story play out in a movie theater.

Dom and Yas enjoy misadventures stalking each other's exes. Yas accompanies Dom to resolve things with Gia and her new boyfriend, Eric (Benajmin Sarpong-Broni).


Things don't go as satisfyingly when the duo tries to reclaim Yas's property left in her ex's apartment. It's all fun for the audience, though.

The themes of Rye Lane are fairly universal. Yas teaches Dom to be more spontaneous and take a chance on her, but the film boasts enough unique touches to distinguish it.

Yas blows off a job interview to continue her day with Dom. In her defense, they did reschedule on her. She's not on call for them yet and the job interview isn't a sure thing, so sometimes a chance encounter is more valuable.

A few stars of British cinema show up in unexpected cameos as Dom and Yas traverse the city.

The widescreen frame rounds off the side edges, indicating anamorphic lenses. That is a very technical inside baseball observation, but the effect invokes classic films that viewers will recognize either overtly or subconsciously.

Rye Lane brings a vivacious local and personal touch to the "two people getting to know each other" genre. These two charismatic performers, along with director Raine Allen Miller and writers Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia, will be ones to watch in the future.

Searchlight Pictures will release Rye Lane March 31 on Hulu.


Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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