REVIEW: ‘Sylvie’s Love’ lacks romantic spark

Tessa Thompson trades the superhero genre for a romantic drama in this new Amazon film.

Thompson stars as the titular main character in “Sylvie’s Love.” At the start of the movie, Sylvie is working at her father’s record store where she meets Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a member of a jazz band in which he plays the saxophone.

The group is still looking for their big break so Robert decides to work at the record store to make extra money. After a short while,  Robert and Sylvie grow closer and a romance develops. However, their career ambitions and other personal commitments keep them from fully coming together for several years.

Romance films should be endearing, with the main relationship in focus being the heart and emotional core of the experience. Unfortunately, there are issues here that prevent a viewer from becoming fully invested in the relationship featured in “Sylvie’s Love,” causing the movie to get knocked down a peg.

The relationship seems a bit rushed in the first act, with the two falling rather deeply in love in a relatively short amount of time. Then, there’s a quick transition to five years later, without seeing any of what the two have been up to, and those butterflies start flying pretty quick. Overall, the development of the relationship feels poorly paced.

Another issue with their relationship is the fact that Sylvie is at one point engaged, and later married, to another man. Personal mileage with this may vary, but the whole affair and cheating behind one’s back angle makes it harder to really root for the two main characters to get together.

Additionally, one can’t help but feel the film is trying to emotionally manipulate the audience in how it portrays Sylvie’s husband Lacy. Alano Miller plays Lacy, and the character is completely self-absorbed, only cares about his job and barely even seems like he is in love with Sylvie.

Courtesy Amazon Studios

It’s as if the character was written to be as unlikable and uncaring as possible so that an audience would be more forgiving to the main couple for getting together. Looking back at the picture, having him be a good, loving husband would have actually been a better deal since it would have created a real dilemma for Sylvie to figure out.

All of this could have maybe been forgiven, though, if the two performers on screen had a good chemistry together. Sadly, it’s not really the case. Thompson and Asomugha play their own parts well, but there’s a spark missing between the two.

That’s not to say they weren’t good in their own right. As the titular character, Thompson shines, convincingly portraying a range of emotions as the person she’s playing takes on new issues.

Asomugha, meanwhile, is less of an experienced actor, so at times is overshadowed, but it’s still a fine performance.

Credit also has to go to how the era was recreated. The way New York City of that time period is brought to life by the design team is enough to pull an audience in.

There are things at play in “Sylvie’s Love” that do work but it’s not enough to overcome the issues. The problems labeled above, as well as the fact that the movie keeps going after basically reaching its conclusion, holds this one back. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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