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‘Sylvie’s Love’ (review)

In a year filled with uncertainty there’s a comfort in familiar themes that let emotional warmth wash over us, but do not make us work too hard to get the reward.

In Sylvie’s Love we have a sweeping love story told with strong performances, stunning cinematography, and just enough drama for a fragile year.

It’s a sweet and wholesome film that does not break the mold as much as polish it.

While her fiance serves overseas, Sylvie (Tessa Thompson) strikes up a friendship (and more) with jazz musician Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) after he takes a part time job at her father’s record store, where she has been helping in the summer of 1957.

As their lives take them in different directions, they reconnect years later with varying progress on the goals they want to achieve, but little change in the deep feelings they have for one another.

There’s a luscious slow burn as we watch Sylvie and Robert flirt.

If you are a fan of the era, their earnest line delivery will seem familiar, but if not it may come off as canned.

An almost kiss in the basement will have the audience leaning forward on their couches as they wait for the two to realize what everyone else around them sees (and worries about).

As they part and return to each other over the course of the film, we get to explore secondary storylines about their professional lives.

Sylvie quickly moves up the ladder to her goals of becoming a television producer, a feat for a Black woman even in today’s world. She constantly reaffirms her career-first choices in a way that reminds us that this is a modern actress time-traveling into a classic role.

Thompson is glorious throughout and gives us an idea of what might have been if these films had been made side-by-side with the Rock Hudson/Doris Day vehicles in that era.

It is one of several elements that create a special place for this film in an otherwise well-worn genre.

The “women’s movies” of the time rarely allowed for Black audiences to see themselves in the romance onscreen. Sylvie’s Love takes immense pains to duplicate the mid-century vibe, with vintage cinematography from Declan Quinn and luxe period-perfect costuming by Phoenix Mellow.

It’s a richly made love letter to a period that never would have made this film, and that today’s audience will swoon over.

Sylvie’s Love is streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video

* * * * *
Produced by Eugene Ashe, Nnamdi Asomugha,
Gabrielle Glore, Jonathan Baker, Matthew Thurm
Written and Directed by Eugene Ashe
Starring Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha,
Ryan Michelle Bathe, Aja Naomi King, Eva Longoria

 

 

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