Review: Handsome 'Sylvie's Love' riddled with pacing and plotting issues
Courtesy of Prime Video
Sweet and syrupy as well as an homage to glossy studio romances of the 50s and 60s, Eugene Ashe’s “Sylvie’s Love” is a serviceable love story that’s riddled with pacing and plotting issues.
The always versatile and extremely likeable Tessa Thompson plays Sylvie, an ambitious young woman who works for her parents Harlem record shop in the late 1950s. She reverts to watching TV and saving face as her mother runs a local charm school and her father can’t afford to hire an employee. That changes when Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) - an equally ambitious musician - stumbles in looking for a part-time gig and lands the job.
Sylvie is engaged (or promised) to a wealthy entrepreneur, but sparks fly (as they do) with Robert and following a careless night together, she becomes pregnant with his child. Not exactly the recipe for success. Cut to five years later - Robert left to tour Europe with his band and doesn’t know he has a kid - and Sylvie is the type of housewife she dreaded becoming. Cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her young daughter, while hubby closes stock deals and lands huge account paydays, Sylvie eventually works her way from switchboard operator to producer of a cooking show on a local channel.
On the surface, “Sylvie’s Love” is an engaging and promising story about hard working career women making sacrifices for themselves, but Ashe’s script sends an inconsistent message. On one hand, Sylvie achieves independence and a job that appreciates her efforts, but as soon as Robert - who, again, ditched for five years - comes back into her life, she’s ready to throw a career away and follow him across the country. Not to mention the young daughter - whose a major influence in the grand scheme of things - is hardly seen. For a movie reliant on Sylvie’s happiness, it sure spends a good chunk of time focusing on Robert. And considering the ups and downs of their relationship, Ashe’s ending for Sylvie and Robert feels like an insult.
The plot only grows clunkier from there with abrupt subplots and sequences that Ashe rushes to fit within a two hour runtime. Thompson and Asomungha have a remarkable presence decked out in Phoenix Mellow’s glistening costume design, but “Sylvie’s Love” never feels honest to its characters. We don’t get the sense Sylvie is making her own decisions without the consent of men and despite Ashe’s film looking great and serving as a throwback to old fashion romance, it ultimately comes up short.
SYLVIE’S LOVE debuts on Prime Video Wednesday, December 23rd.