IMDb Link: Sylvie’s Love (2020)
Director: Eugene Ashe
Writer: Eugene Ashe
Stars: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria
Synopsis: When a young woman meets an aspiring saxophonist in her father’s record shop in 1950s Harlem, their love ignites a sweeping romance that transcends changing times, geography, and professional success.
When I first saw people giving this film praise, I heard about the great leading performance from Tessa Thompson. I love the roles that she takes on, whether it is someone like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok or her upcoming performance in Rebecca Hall’s Passing. This is another different role for Thompson, but one that she fits very well into. Her titular character, Sylvie, has charm that helps you connect with her, as well as beliefs that are strong and that she acts upon. Whilst she is the clear star of the film, it is incredibly easy to like many of the other performances here, particularly from uncoming star Nnamdi Asomugha. Going by this performance alone, I cannot wait to see what he does afterwards.
It is so easy to fall into this world due to the production and costume designs. When some films tackle this era, it can be easy to gover overboard with puffy dresses and making a picturesque world. This feels authentic to the era, particularly for the black community. All of the outfits that Sylvie wears are stunning, but in a simplistic manner and with outfits that I would still love to wear today. It was refreshing to have a film take place in a certain time, but not have the focus of the film be on that time.
It is not only the choices made on-screen that helps the audience get soaked into the world, but the editing and the stylistic choices within that. Whilst it can be seen as narratively simple, it is the gorgeous score that helps showcase the jazz influences within this story. It is the title cards and closing credits that help this film feel like it has come straight from that era. It does not overdo it, choosing not to be in blck-and-white for example, but it does give a feeling of belinging in the past which is charming and easy to fall in love with.
This could have easily been a film that was heavily feminist, and yet it touches on those subject matters naturally and with a strong message that does not overpower the general story. The same goes with the divide between black and white people in that time, and yet once again the story does not dwell on that. This is still about love and focusing on yourself and what is best for yourself, and I think that is such a beautiful message that only helps you connect with these characters more.
I will admit that the film drops in the second half in terms of solidifying that narrative and keeping us engaged with the main characters. Whilst there are these great sequences of dialogues and discussions, it is easy to see the film fizzle out once the tone of the film changes. What captures the audience is the discovery of Sylvie’s love and the passion she has, but once she loses it, it becomes easy for us to lose that connection with it.
However, there is so much within this to fully appreciate and fall in love with. On a cold winter evening, this is the warm little film that will cheer you up for sure and make you feel some sort of love during these dark times. I cannot wait to see Thompson continue to shine and take on these roles, and I hope more people continue to make films like these.
Sylvie’s Love is available to watch on Amazon Prime now.