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‘Rye Lane’ Director Raine Allen-Miller Is Justifiably A Little Over The Wes Anderson Comparisons [Interview] The Playlist

May 1, 2023

If you live in the United Kingdom, you should make it a priority to see Raine Allen-Miller‘s feature debut, “Rye Lane,” in theaters. And if you’re in the United States, you should make sure to catch it when it drops on Hulu on March 31. The Searchlight Pictures and BBC Films co-production was one of the highlights of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and has earned rave reviews ever since. But it’s also a stellar debut for Allen-Miller who you will absolutely be hearing a ton about in the years to come.
READ MORE: “Rye Lane” review: Raine Allen-Miller’s rom-com is already infinitely rewatchable [Sundance]
Set in contemporary South London, “Rye Lane” centers on Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (“Industry’s” David Jonsson), an unlikely pair who team up to tackle their individual romantic break-ups. And, along the way, new sparks may be lit. The film was written by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia but has Allen-Miller’s creative stamp all over it. That has led some critics and media to compare her to filmmakers Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright and as she puts it slightly exasperated, “…yeah.”
During an interview with The Playlist earlier this month Allen-Miller remarked, “I find that annoying because I actually think Wes Anderson is an amazing director, and I think he has such a clear vision. But my thing is that I love things to feel super real, but elevated and considered. But I really like things to feel real and authentic, and I don’t like overly designing things. And I think his thing is that he loves to design and to every detail is Wes Anderson-ified. And so just because it looks nice and it’s considered doesn’t mean that it’s Wes Anderson. And tracking shots. Hitchcock did tracking shots. Do you know what I mean? Spike Lee‘s done tracking shots. It’s just like, ‘Ah.’ When people are like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s like Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright had a baby.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God. No, please.’ But I do think those directors are amazing, and I think I will say that Wes Anderson, what I respect about him is that you look at one frame from Wes Anderson film, you’re like, ‘That is a Wes Anderson film.’ But the same goes for a lot of brilliant directors.”
Over the course of our conversation, Allen-Miller discusses her surprise at the ’90s references from viewers, the luck in finding both Oparah and Jonsson, the freedom of an indie budget even for a studio film, and much more.
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The Playlist: I’m lucky. I got to see the movie before it debuted at Sundance, so I knew how great it was before the hype. But I have to ask you, what is your reaction to these amazing reviews that you’ve gotten so far? Is it a sigh of relief?
Raine Allen Miller: Yeah, relief is a good word. I mean, it’s mad. You work on a film for quite a long time and you are in this little bubble of people that love you and want to be nice, and it’s kind of terrifying letting it out into the world. But it’s been a really amazing response and I feel very lucky and happy and proud, but relieved. You are right. That is a big one.
The script was developed by two gentlemen before it came your way. What was your reaction when you first read it? Or was there not a script when they approached you?
There was a script and it was hilarious. I laughed out loud on the train in front of quite a lot of people, and I got sent it and I was like, “Well, no, I write and I want to write my first feature.” But I really did find it funny and I also felt like there was a lot of room for it to grow. And it’s a simple story about two people wandering around and that felt really fun. And the guys were super open to my ideas. I went in and said, “Let’s not set it in Camden, let’s set it in Peckham.”And we worked on Yas more and we developed the script for two years together.
Besides not having it in Camden, was there one other thing that was most important to you when you came on board in terms of, “Hey, we need to do this to the script?”
I think Yas needed to feel more dominant, and I really liked the idea of the female character being the funny one. I think there’s so many films where there’s this bumbling funny man and this gorgeous woman just standing there nodding. And I was like, “No, they need to be equal. And I actually think that Yas needs to be more funny and he needs to be the sort of slightly awkward shy one.” But the other thing was that I really wanted to make those flashbacks feel super surreal and more elevated, mainly because that comes from truth. I think when we talk about something that happened, we imagine ourselves in this really epic, slightly theatrical way. I know I definitely do. If I’m like, “I told this man off the other day,” I imagine myself in a gown being really articulate and brilliant on a stage, and I love the idea of showing that, Dom going, “I beat him up and I smashed through the door,” and it’s that… It comes from a place of truth and it’s fun, and I think we can all connect to that. So that was something that I really wanted to elevate those flashbacks.
No matter how good the script is, a film like this hinges on the actors playing Yas and Dom. What was the audition process?
The audition process. It was great. I mean, one of the things that was really important to me was that they weren’t too recognizable. I obviously wanted people that were experienced, but I didn’t want people that were famous necessarily because I really wanted to build a new world and I wanted to have it as my film and to feel fresh. But we met some really amazing people.
But as soon as I met Vivian, and as soon as I met David, I just felt it felt right. And the casting director and I were so nervous because we were like, “O.K., we found the perfect Yas and Dom, but what happens when we put them in a room together? If they don’t have chemistry, then we’ve got a problem.” And then we did put them in a room together and it was amazing and it just felt so right. And hopefully, you can see that in the film. Their chemistry was amazing, and they just work so well together and they’re actually mates, they get on. And actors being happy and feeling safe with each other is a really important thing for me, especially a first feature because it’s a first feature for all of us, and we all needed to feel safe and happy and listened to.
I know you’ve done commercials and short films before, but this was your first feature, it’s a studio feature, it’s a Searchlight film. Was that challenging?
It was really hard, but I definitely always went in strong and felt really confident, and I’ve always felt like that. I also think doing commercials, you’re on set all the time, but you’re also talking to clients a lot. I can present my ideas and I can argue for things and I can be strong about it, and people question things sometimes, but I think BBC, BFI, and Searchlight were incredibly supportive and actually trusted me a lot. So I went into it feeling supported but also feeling very confident in how I wanted to make the film, which was amazing. I think people talk a lot about studio films being, “You’re going to get sucked into the studio system,” but it’s still an indie film. It was still a low-budget film, and actually, that gave me the space to actually be quite free in how we did it. There were no questions around, “Oh, you need to do more coverage or you need to do this, you need to do that.” I did it my way. I was totally empowered to do it my way, and I kind of empowered myself, I think.
The movie was also re-written for this particular neighborhood in London. Yes, you’ve got security and stuff to close down streets but was shooting in a real-life location more challenging than you thought it might be?
It’s so weird because quite a lot of people ask me that, and it really wasn’t that bad. I mean, it really wasn’t. It was quite funny. I mean, on some occasions people came over and said, “Are you shooting ‘EastEnders?’” And I remember being like, “No.” And then they were kind of disappointed that it wasn’t “EastEnders,” which is really funny. But no, it was O.K. I think the biggest challenge was just avoiding people walking past in masks because it was the pandemic. But I think the South London community is always quite excited about something being made. It’s like if you walk past and there’s a shoot, you always want to look and you’re like, “What’s going on?” But everyone was quite positive and mainly just nosy, wanting to know what it was.
The film has a ton of ’90s influences in it and I’m curious where that came from. Was that your aesthetic? Was that something the screenwriters had also built into their initial script?
What do you mean by ’90s?
Obviously, you’ve got Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop.”
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
But also visually, as someone living during the ’90s indie film there’s a lot of aesthetic stuff to the film that is very reminiscent of that we haven’t seen in a number of decades, and maybe that’s just your own aesthetic. But when I watched the movie, I distinctly remember thinking, “This reminds me of ‘Run Lola Run’.” If you’ve ever seen that movie by Tom Tykwer. And then I’ve heard other people talk about, “It reminds me of early ’90s films like ‘Party Girl,’” which maybe you haven’t seen because it’s a cult American indie film, but it feels ingrained when we see it. Or, maybe we’re just projecting our film references on it it.
No, no, I genuinely asked that because I was curious about what you really meant. And I’m obsessed with films like “Beverly Hills Cop” or “They Live.” Late-’80s, early-’90s films. I love that era. But it’s weird because I think obviously you naturally reference things and naturally your instincts might naturally turn in. You might do something kind of similar without realizing. I tried quite hard not to look at other rom-coms or anything too specific. But yeah, it may have accidentally happened. I almost don’t want to say, “I don’t look at any references,” because that’s so not true. I obviously watch loads of films and I love ’90s films, but it wasn’t a conscious thing. It wasn’t like, “I’m going to try and do this because I love that director.”
Do you read reviews?
I’ve been trying not to, but oh no. Why? Because there are a few people that people have referenced and said…the most annoying one is Wes Anderson. Because… Yeah.
That was what I was going to ask.
I find that annoying because I actually think Wes Anderson is an amazing director, and I think he has such a clear vision. But my thing is that I love things to feel super real, but elevated and considered. But I really like things to feel real and authentic, and I don’t like overly designing things. And I think his thing is that he loves to design and to every detail is Wes Anderson-ified. And so just because it looks nice and it’s considered doesn’t mean that it’s Wes Anderson. And tracking shots. Hitchcock did tracking shots. Do you know what I mean? Spike Lee’s done tracking shots. It’s just like, ah. When people are like, “Oh yeah, it’s like Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright had a baby.” I’m like, “Oh my God. No, please.” But I do think those directors are amazing, and I think I will say that Wes Anderson, what I respect about him is that you look at one frame from Wes Anderson film, you’re like, “That is a Wes Anderson film.” But the same goes for a lot of brilliant directors.
Do you hope that in the years ahead, after you have a number of films on your slate, people look at your films and go, “That’s a Raine film?” That’s her.
I think if people think they’re good, then yeah, that would be great. If it’s like, “Oh, wow, that looks like a Raine film for a good reason.” Then yes, that would be great. But what does that actually mean, I guess? I think it would be nice. It’s a compliment.
It’s a compliment.
It means that it’s unique and it means that it’s a thing that I have, but I don’t know. It would be nice, but it’s also a little bit egotistical maybe if I’m like, “One day people are going to look and go, that’s a Raine film.” I do have quite a specific idea of how I like things to look and to feel. So maybe that is a good thing. I’m not sure.
Also, the comparisons could be because there is an energy to this film that I think is very similar to their energies, which isn’t just a visual thing. That might be what critics are picking up on.
Yeah, I think Edgar Wright’s pacing is amazing. His early films, I don’t love his later films, but oh my god, “Shaun of the Dead,” what an incredibly directed film. He’s a brilliant director. But I just think there are so many directors out there that I think are amazing, and it’s just quite easy to say that I’m like him or somebody that visual and funny…I think there’s not that much out there of visual and funny combined. So it’s kind of like naturally you’re going to go, “O.K., Edgar Wright, or Wes Anderson.” I’d much prefer someone to say, Spike Lee or Quentin Tarantino. They’re people that I’ve properly nerded out on their films.
“Rye Lane” debuts on Hulu on March 31.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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