SYLVIE’S LOVE (2020) – My rating: 7.5/10

Sylvie’s Love is a drama written, directed, and produced by Eugene Ashe. A sweet story of a young girl living in Harlem, finding herself and falling in love but promised to another by a conceided and overbearing mother. I really liked Sylvie’s Love but find many loose ends. Sylvie’s Love opens uptown in New York City, better known as Harlem. The year is 1962 when jazz is still popping.  There is a chance encounter outside of town Hall between two people who obviously know each other.  She calls his name, he turns towards her and a big smile lights up his face. The film then turns back time, 5 years earlier when life was less complicated, and reveals how Sylvie and Robert originally met and fell in love.

Sylvie Parker (Tessa Thompson) works at her father’s Mr. Jay (Lance Riddick) music store while Robert Halloway (Nnamdi Asomugha) is a saxophone player and part of a quartet .  He becomes mesmerized when he spots Sylvie in the window of the music store.  Looking for a reason to enter the store, he eyes a Help Wanted sign in the window.  He enters and inquires about a jazz album.  Silvie is watching TV as she directs Robert to a section of the store where he can find Thelonious Monk, never taking her eyes and attention off the “I Love Lucy” show. Robert calls for her attention to pay for the album and also asks about the Help Wanted sign. Sylvie explains that they aren’t actually looking for help; that her mother Eunice Johnson (Erica Fawn Gimpel) uses the sign for optics despite the fact that her father can’t afford help, and she works there while her fiancé Lacy Parker (Alamo Miller) is stationed in Korea. Her father, overhearing the exchange, comes out from the backroom and hires Robert on the spot.

Sylvie and her BFF /cousin Mona (Aja Naomi King) share most of their experiences together.  They hang out visiting clubs, sunbathing on the rooftop, going to concerts, and attending house parties.  They even share information about their sex lives. Sylvie never seems freer as when she is with Mona. Sylvie’s mother is a strict, uppity parent who insists her daughter holds herself proper at all times.  Eunice is the reason Sylvie is marrying a proper, well off young man that meets her mother’s approval.

So, the stage is set. Sylvie and Robert have met and fallen hard for each other.  Of course, life gets in the way as Robert and his quartet have been offered a long term gig in Paris, France. Let’s not forget Sylvie is still engaged to be married, awaiting Lacy to return from Korea.  Also, Sylvie’s mother continues to be a problem.  Having lived in Harlem for thirteen years, I didn’t recognize any of the buildings, streets, or stores shown.  It wasn’t long before I realized this was a studio set build to emulate Harlem.  I don’t know what they used as a model, but the set was completely fake.  The plot had a familiar theme, as we’ve been there before, and the film eliminated the Jim Crow laws that would have interfered with the bottom line of their lives.  Despite my above comments, I enjoyed the movie, as it was entertaining but predictable.  Sylvie’s Love featured a phenomenal cast with an appearance by the likes of Eva Longoria as Carmen, a singer and dancer and eye candy like Regé-Jean Page as Chico Sweetney who is a member of the quartet. How they get together and all the adventures and events that Robert and Sylvie went through was worth the watch.  Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 92% approval rating based on 105 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The website’s critic consensus reads: “A romance for the ages, Sylvie’s Love wraps audiences in the sweet embrace of its old-fashioned romance and celebration of Black love.” Sylvie’s Love is streaming on Prime Video and is FREE for Prime members — Check It Out!


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