Written and directed by Eugene Ashe, Sylvie’s Love, is a period piece that also manages to be completely timeless in its earnest feelings.
The movie begins in Harlem in the 1950s. Sylvie and Robert fall in love, basically at first sight, during a hot summer. Sylvie is a from a middle class family that is fairly bougie, thanks to her mother. Her father takes an immediate liking to Robert, a burgeoning jazz musician – and so does Sylvie, despite her engagement to a soldier off fighting in the Korean War. While understanding that relationship isn’t without complications, the two embark on a hot romance. Without giving the entire plot away, the movie is a beautiful and satisfying love story.
Sylvie’s Love is steeped in cultural references. I watched the movie with my mother, a black woman, not much younger than Sylvie, and smiled as she sang along to all the songs and pointed out the clothing and decor that she remembered from her childhood. My mother even attended an etiquette school similar to the one Sylvie’s mother owns. The beautiful part about all of the blackness in this film is that it’s not framed by tragedy and struggle. So any black films resort to poor stereotypes and glamorize the trauma of living as a Black American. Sylvie’s Love doesn’t take that route, and is still an authentic black experience that touches on the difficulty of being successful and black, during that time period.
Love Doesn’t Come Without Issues In Sylvie’s Love
The biggest issue in the film is a lack of communication – making the film a truly universal love story. How many of us have had a relationship suffer because we chose to say nothing, or said the right thing far too late? While Sylvie and Robert love each other deeply, they don’t always choose to say it or show in ways that would be beneficial to the other.
It also perfectly captures the fun and innocence of young love and old friendships. Sylvie and her cousin regularly ask each other about their favorite music and erupt into fits of giggles – instantly reminding me of my closest friends and I. Sylvie and Robert both shrug off their work at father’s record store to flirt with one another instead – like all young lovers do.
Sylvie’s Love is the black love story we all deserve. Not just black peoples, all of us. It’s the moving, beautiful love story that we could all use after a gloomy year. Furthermore, non-black people deserve and need to see a wide variety of black stories that reaffirm our humanity and relatability if we’re ever going to defeat racism.
So, watch the damn movie. The end.