Director; Eugene Ashe. Starring; Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Lance Reddick. Rated PG-13. Color. 114 Minutes.
Personally, I have not found luck in love so far. That is not to say I have not experienced being so in love with a woman that seeing her face the moment you wake up and feeling happy everyday has not taken place. I have truly loved three women in my life, two of which I believed were ‘The One’. Unfortunately things did not work out. I have somewhat sworn-off the dating game as the social media era that is Tinder feels so opposite of what love looks like for me personally. No disrespect to those that are happy with swiping right on their phone for a date. Having said that, I will always be a romantic. In a year like 2020 director Eugene Ashe was able to bring us “Sylvie’s Love”, a heartwarming picture that will have you smiling in the end.
The opening frame is somewhat misleading with the two main characters running into each other five years after first meeting. Cut backwards to1950’s Harlem. “Sylvie’s Love” centers around Tessa Thompson’s titular character during a life changing summer while working for her father Jay (Lance Reddick) at his local record store. Sylvie is currently engaged to Chico Sweetney (Rege-Jean Page), a military man doing service over seas. Her elitist-life-hunting mother Eunice (Erica Gimpel) is all in when it comes to this marriage and unconcerned with what her daughter truly wants.
Sylvie enjoys working for her dad as it is the only time she can kick back while watching television and listening to records without her mother hovering over in an attempt to shape a ‘Proper’ woman. The young lady has other plans, but before she can attempt to follow her dream career a handsome young man named Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) walks into her father’s shop. A talented jazz musician, Robert is looking for a day job that also involves festering his passion for song. Little did either of our protagonists know their meeting on the job would turn out to be some strange form of fate that is unexplainable.
One could shun Sylvie for not remaining faithful to her betrothed, especially any current or former military man. But this previously orchestrated relationship was forced on Sylvie. On top of that, once Chico returns home his idea of a woman is for her to make dinner and clean the house every day in order to impress his business colleagues. Not exactly what Sylvie aspires to do as she has her sights firmly set on becoming one of the few female African-American producers working in television.
Sylvie’s life is the example of perfect on paper in the 1960’s as long as she plays ball, but the love is not there. Suddenly everything blows up when Robert randomly runs into the love of his life after returning home from a concert tour in Europe. It is in this moment where various factors far more complicated than seeing your ex come to the surface which I will not spoil here. But the moment of seeing your true love, and I emphasize your true love, is something inexplicable. Both Nnamdi and Tessa perform this moment of instantaneous happiness perfectly to the point where it comes close to witnessing pure bliss in real life.
“Sylvie’s Love” is not perfect. There are small flaws, particularly in the pacing category with the third act delaying the inevitable way longer than needed. Yet when it comes down to what it is, a genre picture working with a minimal budget trying to pull off a period piece, “Sylvie’s” is an absolute gem. This is not a ‘drop the mic’ Oscar winner. This movie is instead an excellent way to feel good about life without feeling cheap after watching it.