Sylvie's Love is a sweet, well-acted but overly packaged film that consciously reimagines mid-century Douglas Sirk-style melodramas with a Black cast and a Harlem setting.
It's an interesting updating that many viewers will welcome, so long as they're comfortable suspending a certain amount of disbelief to be swept into its manicured world.
The film's romanticized rendering of late 1950s and early 1960s New York has scrubbed the city so clean there are no pedestrians and the streets permanently glisten. Characters are always impeccably dressed, and Robert's smoky jazz milieu is as improbably clean-cut as etiquette-trained debutante Sylvie's world.
This idealized portrayal is only finely cracked in a few specific scenes where the racial barriers and bigotry Black people still faced in the 1960s are referenced.
As Sylvie and Robert begin to grapple with more grown-up troubles in the second half of the story, the film gains depth, even despite a general lack of subtlety (see Sylvie reading a copy of The Feminine Mystique soon after she's declared her independence).
Thompson and football pro-turned-actor Asomugha bring a pleasing wholesomeness to their characters and carry the film with sincere performances. The soundtrack has its own starring role: this film is about love, but it's also about love for music, and it captures music's power to define eras, evoke memories, enchant, and enamor.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.