Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Sylvie's Love - Movie Review

The Movie: Sylvie's Love

The Director: Eugene Ashe

The Cast: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Aja Naomi King, Jemima Kirke, Tone Bell, Alano Miller, Erica Gimpel, Lance Reddick, Wendi McLendon Covey, Eva Longoria

The Story: A woman working at her father's record store in Harlem in the late 1950s meets an aspiring saxophone player.

The Review:
This movie is a beautifully crafted throwback to the yesteryears of Hollywood love stories when you would see the biggest names on the marquee and people just knew they were going to see something special unfold on the screen in front of them. Director Eugene Ashe takes great care to recapture that classic visual style with vibrant colors and glamorous lighting, all of it showcasing the 1950's era beautifully on film. Everything about how this movie was put together just feels good and right.

Speaking of things that are good and right, Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha each give performances worthy of those days and they take the audience on an emotional journey of love and loss and what could have been. While there aren't any big emotionally charged moments that knocked my socks off, I was very impressed with the humanity and the nuances of each performance as the duo filled their characters with so much life. You really get to know them over the course of the movie and as their lives continued to cross paths over time, I was really rooting for them to live happily ever together.

Tessa Thompson in particular was perfectly cast in a role that demands the magnetism and presence of a true movie star and she fits the bill perfectly. I mean, everything she does turns out great because she's doing it whether it be this role or as a drunken Valkyrie in the Marvel universe. She flat out kills it and stands out in every moment of screen time she occupies. As far as Nnamdi Asomugha, I feel like this performance is undeservedly going to go under the radar. There is a strength and vulnerability to his character that really drew me in and I felt such a connection to the human being he put in screen. I honestly feel like this performance is one of the best I've seen this year.

If you are a fan of jazz, especially from the 50's and 60's, you are really going to enjoy the music that is on display in this movie mostly thanks to songs written by Fabrice Lecomte. The music producer provides a musical backdrop that is equal to the lush, near hyper reality of the production design. The costumes, the hairstyles, the office decor, the cars. All of it adds up to a beautiful movie to look at that glosses over and sometimes outright ignores some of the darker sides of the music business during that era but, for the story, it's okay to look past it as the focus is on the romance and the undeniable connection between the two characters.

It should also be noted the importance of having a cast filled with black actors pretty much across the board and in a time when representation, or the lack of it, has become a high priority. At least to some. It's still unfortunately rare to see this type of casting and I would really like to see more of it, especially in a context like this that shows how easily black actors can take on romantic roles and lead roles like those that typically go to white actors. I also liked that, while the story touches on topics of racism, diversity, and equity, it's never the focus. We know it's there, but Ashe stays true to the love story and lets that be what it is because sometimes focusing on love is just what we need.

The Verdict:
Sylvie's Love is a romantic throwback that beats with the heart of a jazz filled melody. Tessa Thompson continues to be an actor I want to see more and more of and Nnamdi Asomugha seems destined to have the same type of all pro career in Hollywood as he had in the NFL.

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