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    “Rye Lane” Is A Total Must-See – Here’s What The Cast And Director Told Us About The New Rom-Com

    "This just felt so idiosyncratic, like more of a love letter to South London and a sort of story of truth and vulnerability; kind of disrupted all the conventions of rom-coms I'd seen."

    The long-awaited Rye Lane is finally in cinemas, and we really are in a rom-com renaissance.

    We sat down with director Raine Allen-Miller and leads David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah to find out all about what went into the making of Rye Lane.

    So Raine, this is your debut film – what was it about the script that made you want to take it on? So when he first came about the project that made you want to take it on? 

    Raine: I'm not a big rom-com fan, usually, but I just liked that it was a really simple film about two people walking around. I think for a director, there's so much room to build a world within that kind of story. And it's just really funny; it felt like it was a really funny script, but there was still room for me to add to it.

    Yas and Dom have amazing chemistry. What was the moment that you knew that David and Vivian were the perfect pair to play them?

    Raine: Well, funnily enough, it was when they were separate. The casting director, Carmel Cochran, and I were obsessed with them, and so excited about them, but also really nervous about putting them in the room together, thinking, “if they don't have chemistry, then what are we going to do?” But they did, loads. So yeah, we kind of knew as soon as we met them, it was great.

    David and Vivian, what was the casting process like for you guys?

    David: We both got the script and we read through it, and it was this kind of very strange script – I don't think either of us would instantly be like, “yeah I want to do a rom-com,” But there was something about the scripts, and then we got to chemistry read. Both of us were paired with different people, and I guess you root for the person that you're auditioning with. But then the second that they swapped us and put us together, I was like, “oh, no, this one's special.” 

    Vivian: Yeah, mutually. Similarly, the scripts arrived, and my agents gave me a nudge to be like, “we like this one” And I was like, “Yas is crazy.” I'm a Capricorn, Yas is definitely a Libra – no shade! She’s very whimsical, and I was wowed at the portrayal of a woman who's unapologetically messy, so I thought it would be very cathartic to play. So I was just excited to stretch my legs and have a challenge. And then I met David, and I was just like, “yeah, he's the guy.”

    So I take that doing a rom-com wasn’t necessarily on the cards for you, originally?

    Vivian: They weren't off the cards, I just wouldn't immediately think of placing myself in a rom-com for a plethora of reasons – maybe just don't see people like us in rom-coms. 

    David: Yeah it's a good question, because why do we think that? Maybe it's because we haven't seen something like this before, or something done in this way. It’s not cheesy, it's not trying to be political for politics’ sake. 

    Vivian: This just felt so idiosyncratic. It felt like more of a love letter to South London and a sort of story of truth and vulnerability; kind of disrupted all the conventions of rom-coms I'd seen. 

    Raine, you’re known for your world-building, so how did you go about kind of keeping to your plan when you were working within a setting you don't always have control of?

    Raine: Because I am a control freak, it was just a lot of planning! Also, South London is just accidentally art directed, right? Even though the film feels authored, and quite specific in its visuals, I hope, I definitely wanted to keep it as authentic as possible. Authentically elevated is what I always say, which sounds incredibly wanky, but it's true. Brixton market is incredibly colourful, you walk around and it just looks like that. So, it was about being organised with where you want to shoot the locations, like making sure that it's not ugly, but also being true to what it is and embracing it for what it is.

    So, Vivian, you've already established you're not that much like Yas. David, how much like Dom are you?

    David: Yeah, nothing, not at all either. I think I got a little bit more game than Dom, just generally! But I think you always want to bring something of yourself to every character. I always like going to different places for my characters, but I think with every character you have to invest, and that takes some of you. So, I've definitely got some sensitivity in me. I don't think you'll catch me crying in a restroom over a breakup, scrolling through my ex's Instagram feed. But yeah, I love Dom, and I love that he wears his heart on his sleeve – I think more men should do that.

    We’re used to seeing certain tropes and stereotypes when we see Black Brits on screen, but I feel like you completely subvert those through Yas and Dom. How did you approach showing their respective vulnerabilities in an authentic way?

    Raine: You know what, it actually doesn't take much to represent what Black people are like in cinema, if you’re actually Black. You know, I think one of the things that was really important is that they felt like normal people that are having a nice day. And I've really felt passionate about the fact that this is what that film is; Black people go and get a coffee, Black people are awkward, Black people laugh, Black people cry over something stupid, they eat Gregg’s sausage rolls, they get on a bus. Like, we don't always have this traumatic experience, and that was something I was really passionate about and wanted to shine a light on. But also, it isn't actually that deep. Like, you know, I didn’t approach this thinking, “oh my god, I'm gonna make this film about Black people being normal”. It was just like, white people get to do that all the time. So, my approach was just looking at what my life’s like. And Viv and David approached it in the same way – it's just life.

    Yeah, that definitely came across. So many characters feel like people we all know or have dated. How much did you base them on people you know? 

    Raine: Oh, gosh, I think our lives are always intertwined in the characters that we portray in films. I definitely know an Eric, I definitely know a Gia. I feel so connected to Yas, you know, Viv and I would talk so much about how we see ourselves in Yas. There are definitely inspirations and stuff. And I think the actors definitely pull from their own experiences, too. 

    Raine, how did you go about getting all the cameos?

    Raine: Well, the one that people often laugh about is the one at the burrito shop: I actually wrote him a letter. I wanted to do a little nod to the films that, no doubt, this film is going to be compared to, but it's so different. And I actually wanted to highlight it before everybody else did it in a really cheeky, playful way. It was fun trying to find interesting characters to pop in there. 

    Finally, what’s your favourite rom-com?

    David: Oh, man! I definitely think Love and Basketball is a classic.

    Vivian: You know what’s a sneaky little guilty pleasure on Netflix –  To All the Boys I Loved Before. Me and my friends watched it about four times. But yeah, the classics are obviously classics for a reason. 

    Raine: Well this is a slightly controversial answer, but I'd say Juno. It's not really a rom-com, but it kind of is. And that's why I like it. I really love that film, it's a comedy and it's romantic, but it's not like a cheesy rom-com.

    Rye Lane is in cinemas now!