A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sylvie's Love is an old-fashioned love story set in the late 1950s and early 1960s with mostly Black characters and a great jazz soundtrack. The main love interest is a talented saxophone player who falls for a young woman engaged to another, wealthier man. The couple flirt, dance, kiss, and eventually have a sex scene where they undress to their undergarments. Other male and female characters also dance and kiss, but the sexual content is mostly discussed in euphemisms (except one raunchy joke that would likely fly over younger viewers' heads). An unplanned pregnancy and some extramarital affairs take place. A man says his wife should only work if she can keep up with her responsibilities in the home. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink beers and cocktails in social settings consistent with the era. A White woman reveals her own racism in a conversation. A character says "damn."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The title character of SYLVIE'S LOVE is a young woman (Tessa Thompson) working part-time at her father's music store while she waits for her future to happen. Namely, she's awaiting her fiancé's return from active duty so they can start a life together. She wants to have a career in TV production, though she's not sure Black women have this option in the 1960s. What's not in her plans is falling in love with an up-and-coming saxophonist, Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), who takes a part-time job alongside her at the store. Their summer romance has unintended consequences which, combined with Sylvie's mother's disapproval of the musician of modest means, will take them down separate paths. When they happen to meet up again five years later, their attraction is as strong as ever but the secrets of their past still must be resolved.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of the look, time period, and setting of Sylvie's Love. How would this story have changed if it were set in another time and place?
How was life different in this era for Black people? How about for women?
Sylvie and Robert each keep a big secret from the other. Do you think they made the right choice in hiding information so as not to hold the other back? Why or why not?
Did you recognize any of the music in the film? Were there any songs or pieces you'd like to know more about?
- On DVD or streaming: December 23, 2020
- Cast: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria
- Director: Eugene Ashe
- Studio: Amazon Studios
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Friendship, History, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sexual content and smoking
- Last updated: December 26, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love romance
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch