Rye Lane director Raine Allen-Miller says 'It's time for a new style of romcom' (exclusive)

Raine Allen-Miller admits that romantic comedies are not really her thing

Watch: Raine Allen-Miller talks to Yahoo about Rye Lane

As Rye Lane bursts onto cinema screens this week, its director Raine Allen-Miller has issued a challenge to other filmmakers.

“It’s time for a new style of romcom,” the filmmaker tells Yahoo UK. And she believes her South London-set romantic comedy could be the start.

For her, the genre all-too-often falls into the trap of being cheesy and formulaic and needs a change. “There are some really great ones out there, like Ten Things I Hate About You,” she explained.

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“But there was an era of really cheesy ones, with the posters showing the actors back to back. Why were they always back to back?”

Rye Lane (Searchlight)
Raine Allen-Miller, the director of Rye Lane. (Searchlight)

She believes that Richard Curtis romcoms have had their day and subverts that style right from the film’s opening moments. Rye Lane’s meet-cute takes place in a loo.

Yas (Vivian Oparah) has retreated there to freshen up and finds Dom (David Jonsson) in a cubicle, in floods of tears over his ex. Allen-Miller admits that the idea was hers.

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“I really liked the idea of lots of lots of toilets from around the world in the beginning and then it felt really funny to have them in the toilet as well,” she explained.

“The other thing is that romcoms are often quite cheesy and I think if the meet-cute is in a loo, nobody can say that’s cheesy. Loos aren’t cheesy, are they? They’re never going to be cheesy. Can you imagine anything cheesy happening in a loo – apart from a selfie in a mirror?”

Rye Lane (Searchlight)
David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in Rye Lane. (Searchlight)

Despite their unpromising start, Yas and Dom get to know each other over the course of a day, wandering through the colourful streets of Peckham and discovering they’re both getting over painful break-ups.

The film’s vibrant energy captured hearts at the Sundance Film Festival at the start of the year and it played at both the Glasgow and Manchester Film Festivals before its UK premiere last week, which took place in Peckham.

It's scattered with cheeky winks to other romantic comedies: there’s a burrito bar called Love Guac’tually, with a familiar heartthrob serving Yas and Dom their food.

London, UK.  Vivian Oparah, Raine Allen Miller and David Jonsson  at the Rye Lane UK premiere. Peckham Rye. 8th March 2023. Ref:LMK11-S100323-001.  Steve Bealing/Landmark Media WWW.LMKMEDIA.COM.
Vivian Oparah, Raine Allen Miller and David Jonsson at the Rye Lane UK premiere. (Steve Bealing/Landmark Media)

But, although she’s directed the film, Allen-Miller is no lover of romcoms. “I’m a film fan,” she says. “I like comedies – comedy with a genre, like horror comedy. But romcoms are not my genre.”

Then she adds, with a characteristically confident smile: “but I’m not only going to do romcoms.

Rye Lane is her debut feature, after a successful career in advertising. Alongside David Jonsson (seen last year in TV’s Industry) and Vivian Oparah (due on the small screen later this year in Then You Run), it also stars Simon Manyonda, Levi Roots, Benjamin Sarpong-Broni and a host of Peckham locals.

Rye Lane is released in UK cinemas on 17 March. Watch a trailer below.