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Sylvie (Tessa Thompson) has been taught by her mother to stand tall, shoulders back and chin lifted, like a proper lady. Unobserved, she’s considerably looser, freer, grooving to Bill Haley’s See You Later, Alligator in the back of her father’s record store. It’s this uninhibited joy that catches the eye of struggling jazz saxophonist Robert (NFL player turned actor Nnamdi Asomugha) in Eugene Ashe’s glossy period romance.
Set in Harlem between 1957 and 1962, the lusty spark between the pair combusts despite Sylvie’s engagement to the more respectable Lacy (Alano Miller). An unexpected pregnancy and a career-making gig in Paris are further obstacles. Thompson and Asomugha have great chemistry, but the film stalls a little in the second half, when the focus pivots towards the couple’s careers.
Like Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk and Todd Haynes’s Carol, Ashe takes the form of the 50s melodrama and recentres it on characters the genre has tended to ignore. This isn’t as politically restless as those films – it’s less interested in subverting the “woman’s picture” than establishing itself as one. In the same way that Saul Leiter’s photographs of New York were a visual reference point for Carol, cinematographer Declan Quinn draws inspiration from Gordon Parks’s photo essays for Life magazine. The period costuming is also a dream, with Thompson as striking as any Golden Age heroine in a teal Chanel gown and white elbow-length gloves.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Sylvie’s Love review – Tessa Thompson captivates in jazz-hot romance | Romance films