An Amazon Studios Picture, Written and Directed By Eugene Ashe.
Sylvie’s Love tells the story of Sylvie (Tessa Thompson), a young woman from Harlem in the 1950s, who has a summer romance with a saxophonist named Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha). When they reconnect years later, they find each other in very different stages of their lives but discover that their feelings for each other have not faded with the years.
The set up here is one as old as time, man and woman have summer romance, are forced apart and then reconnect years later to discover that connection is still as strong. This may sound like a criticism, but it truly isn’t, because Sylvie’s Love really does create a timeless feel to it. Everything about it feels like the glossy and sweeping romances of the 1950s; full of elegance, charm and heart. In many ways, it could be considered the perfect tonic for these dark times, to be able to switch this on at home and be transported into a film that is sweet, emotional, wistful, and sexy, perfect escapism for right now.
The central reason why the film and in particular the romance works so well, are its lead two stars, and in particular Tessa Thompson. Thompson is now a well-known star thanks to her supporting work in the MCU and on Westworld, but when she is given the chance to lead films, like Little Woods (2018) and this one, she absolutely excels and shows just what a talent she is. Her Sylvie is straight out of the classic Audrey Hepburn playbook; charming, graceful, internally strong and with a real kindness. It is also great to see how a strong Black woman is allowed to pursue and achieve in the career she wants, and also have romance, without the film ever judging or putting her down for either, and the credit for that goes to both Thompson and writer/director Eugene Ashe.
In addition to Thompson, the central romance would not work without the charismatic and really impressive performance from Nnamdi Asomugha as Robert. A young man full of talent and hope in his career, he finds himself fighting to be recognised for his talents, as well as balancing it with pursuing the woman he loves, he is constantly told is above his station. The chemistry Asomugha has with Thompson is evident from the very first scene they shared, and the most impressive aspect of that is how the two manage to evolve that chemistry over the course of the film to fit with the different stages of their lives the characters find themselves in.
It certainly isn’t a perfect film, as it often flirts with delving deep into the topics like class, race, and the hypocrisy of showbusiness, but then quickly glosses over them. This does lead to a slight lack of real exploration and payoff for issues that are really fascinating and important to look at, but in many ways, this is never what this film was interested in, so you can’t hold that against it.
Overall, this is just a hugely enjoyable film, with great lead performances and a story that allows you to feel a wide range of emotions throughout, and leaves you feeling deeply satisfied as the final credits roll.
Rating = 4/5