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Sylvie's Love review: Old-school mush, new-age spin

Sylvie's Love captures the essence of a bygone era in Hollywood

Source: SIFY

By: Vinayak Chakravorty/IANS

Critic's Rating: 2.5/5

Friday 25 December 2020

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Movie Title

Sylvie's Love review: Old-school mush, new-age spin

Director

Eugene Ashe

Star Cast

Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Aja Naomi King, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Eva Longoria, Jemima Kirk

Once upon a time when filmmaking was a far more earnest affair, this is the way romantic drama would have been imagined. I say imagined because Sylvie's Love takes the essential template of the grand old Hollywood romance and gives it a new-age twist. The film is still the same love story, but with coloured protagonists reorganising the socio-politics of the genre.

Whiff of jazz, smoke-filled nightclubs and flashy vintage cars cruising past Times Square (impressive VFX recreating the scenario, as it might have looked back in the day) -- New York in the summer of 1957 looks impressive on screen as Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) the saxophonist spends his nights in clubs, playing as part of a jazz quartet. He takes up a part-time job in a record store.

Sylvie (Tessa Thompson), the store owner's daughter, dreams of a career in television production -- something that's not an easy deal in America of the fifties. She hangs around at the store helping her father, waiting for her fiance to return from war. Robert's entry shakes up Sylvie's life. She soon senses what had started off as friendship has gone deeper.

In the tradition of classic Hollywood romances, writer-director Eugene Ashe stretches the story of Sylvie and Robert to beyond one summer. Years later, Sylvie has made a career for herself as a TV producer while Robert is yet to find the success he dreamt of. They are different people now, but after all the years gone there is still some spark left in their story.

Ashe seems obsessed with creating the classic Hollywood romance. The fixation to craft the perfect vintage film often reduces the frames to a formulaic array of plasticity. The writer-director, however, makes up with impressive skills as a storyteller. Also, though he operates with content that unfolds with predictable tone and pace, there is a smart spin somewhere that gives convention an interesting new-age touch.

Thompson and Asomugha score with winning chemistry. Together, they render a charming edge to the bittersweet narrative and are the best reason to watch this beautifully mounted film. Sylvie's Love works to a large extent while capturing the essence of an era bygone in Hollywood. This is your film if you dig old-school romance, tweaked to include a Black saga in a genre traditionally dictated by the Whites.

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra2

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