Is Rye Lane Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Chris Harris/Searchlight Pictures

Directed by debutant filmmaker Raine Allen-Miller, ‘Rye Lane’ is a romantic comedy film predominantly set in the eponymous market in South London, England. The two main characters meet at a mutual friend’s art exhibition in the stalls of a unisex washroom. Dom’s (David Jonsson) former girlfriend cheated on him with his best friend, and the film’s opening scene finds him locked in one of the stalls, weeping. Yas (Vivian Oparah) is in the stall next to him when she hears his cries and asks him if he is alright. She later recognizes him by his shoes, and their brief washroom encounter soon expands into an unexpectedly remarkable day. Given that the narrative is set at a real location, many of you might be wondering whether ‘Rye Lane’ is inspired by actual events. Here is what we know about it.

Is Rye Lane a True Story?

No, ‘Rye Lane’ is not based on a true story. Allen-Miller developed the film from a script by Screenwriters Nathan Byron and Tom Melia. The three of them worked on the script together for two years, and Allen-Miller’s inputs brought certain changes to the narrative. An example is that the story is set in Camden in the original script, and Allen-Miller shifted the setting to Brixton and Peckham.

Although the film bears a certain resemblance to projects such as the ‘Before’ trilogy and ‘Punch-Drunk Love,’ Allen-Miller cites David Mitchell and Robert Webb’s British sitcom ‘Peep Show,’ ‘Bowfinger,’ ‘Beverly Hills Cop,’ ‘The Jerk,’ ‘Pretty Woman,’ and the works of Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee as her biggest sources of influence.

“It’s such a great show, and there’s a shot they do, where they kind of go straight in, right into the face and the eye-line is just above the lens so that you’re not breaking the fourth wall, but you’re in their head,” Allen-Miller said about ‘Peep Show’ in an interview with Indie Wire. “That was definitely a big inspiration.”

Although she does like her share of romantic comedies, including ‘50 First Dates,’ ‘10 Things I Hate About You,’ and ‘Clueless,’ Allen-Miller doesn’t necessarily identify with them. “They’re fun,” she adds. “If there’s one on telly, then I’ll watch it, but I definitely went into this [film] wanting this to feel like a bit more than that.”

Her sentiments are echoed by the screenwriters. According to Bryon, black people are seldom depicted in the art world in films and television like the way they have been in the opening scene of ‘Rye Lane.’ Melia has lived in Brixton at one point in his life, just like Allen-Miller. So, when the director said that she wanted to switch the setting from North to South London, Melia agreed as it still fits the screenwriters’ vision. The earliest draft “was a bit more like ‘Before Sunrise,’ insofar as it could almost be one shot,” he told The New York Times. “By the time Raine read it, it had developed a bit further away from that anyway.”

In an interview with Collider, Allen-Miller reflected on her initial response to the script. “When I got the script, it definitely felt like there was space to elevate it and bring my world building to the whole thing,” she stated. “So I would say that the script is so funny. It’s so funny, but it’s also really simple, and I think that gives you the opportunity to go kind of wild with the craft, and that’s a huge part of what I do.”

‘Rye Lane’ is also a rare feat visually. Almost every scene of the film is brimming with color. As we follow the two protagonists, parts of London that were once depicted as bland and dreary come to life like a kaleidoscope. According to Allen-Miller, her background in commercials, music, videos, and short films, along with the movies and TV shows that inspired her, helped her to come up with the correct look for ‘Rye Lane. Ultimately, ‘Rye Lane’ is a simple film that, at times, feels surreal while being grounded in reality. However, it’s not based on a true story.

Read More: Where Was Rye Lane Filmed?