A bit predictable and overlong though it might be, Sylvie’s Love is an earnestly charming romance with winning performances.
Released on Amazon Prime Video today to very little fanfare, Sylvie’s Love, from writer-director Eugene Ashe, is the rare film that’s full of clichés but nonetheless feels like something of a novelty. A sweet period romance, it’s a drama about Black people that doesn’t get hung up on the era’s racial animus, and about a man and woman whose lives and careers are lent equal importance in the screenplay. For those details alone the film, while slightly overlong and a bit burdened by contrivance, is worth a peep if you’re in the mood for such a thing, and at this time of year, who isn’t?
The titular Sylvie is played by Tessa Thompson, and her beau, brilliant saxophonist Robert, is given a pleasantly reserved quality by Nnamdi Asomugha. Together, these two shoulder the weight of a burgeoning romance and a shared musical passion; sparks fly from the word go and there is enough palpable on-screen chemistry to paper over any cracks that emerge when the too-familiar narrative takes some sharp turns into farfetched territory.
The battle between personal and professional lives is an age-old one, but Sylvie’s Love gets away with the theme on the strength of its even approach to both leads. Sumptuous costuming and production design help to create a vintage environment for her character to inhabit, but that environment’s treatment of her is contemporary. While the era’s pervasive racial bigotry is there in the margins, it is refreshingly underplayed here. Love is at the forefront, and little else, and sometimes that’s all that a romantic drama really needs.