The world can never have too many love stories, when the people upending their lives over matters of the heart make you believe it’s true. Sylvie’s Love is familiar in a reassuring sense – it’s a love affair with two magnetic leads, one that questions the price of affection and the limits of ambition without losing sight of this great romance.
There are shades of La La Land in Eugene Ashe’s good-looking, smooth-talking feature: Sylvie (Tessa Thompson) is a wide-eyed, talented young woman with big dreams in the TV industry, Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) is a romantic saxophonist who lives according to his jazz partitions. The chemistry between them fizzes effortlessly, and lets you love them both in a heartbeat.
Sylvie and Robert fall in and out of each other’s lives, as their dreams and commitments get in the way of their devotion to one another. Sylvie’s Love understands bad timings and missed connections, how love might, in fact, not be able to transcend everything when your life isn’t quite like the movies.
New York in 1957 is a time and place of great change, as Motown is rising and television is transforming. But Sylvie and Robert’s connection still feels timeless, as they wonder how you can love something absolutely, incomparably, as the world pushes and pulls them away from one another endlessly.
The war between creative ambition and personal connection is one we know all too well, but Thompson and Asomugha’s go-for-broke commitment still lets this film sing. They’re charming and tender, fully leaning in to Ashe’s gorgeous glossy design of an era on the cusp of change.
There’s little more to grapple with in terms of original conflict, but this also makes the film feel like a welcome addition to the festive rotation of movie watching for the whole family. It’s one you can chew over with distant relatives on just how far you’d go for love, how much a personal dream can erode the connections to those you’re supposed to protect above all else.
It’s a fairytale of a love story, with well-worn morals of staying true to yourself and following your heart. Those values will never go out of style, and so it works – but it remains to be seen how Sylvie’s Love might stand the test of time once the warm glow of the holiday season has worn off.
- Director: Eugene Ashe
- Starring: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha
- Release date: December 23 (Amazon Prime Video)