Sylvie's Love

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Sylvie's Love Movie Poster Image
Melodramatic, old-fashioned romance has sex, mature themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

True love can conquer all. Family matters. Sometimes we have to put aside our own artistic, personal, or professional pursuits to care for others. Lying doesn't usually pay. Black people deserve equal professional opportunities based on their qualifications. Women also should be able to pursue professional careers on an equal footing with men.

Positive Role Models

Characters are generally kind and courteous. They prioritize family. They support each other's dreams and goals. Some have extramarital affairs. Lovers lie to each other so as not to hold each other back. Diverse characters.  A man says his wife should only work if she can keep up with her responsibilities in the home. 

Violence

In one scene, the White wife of Lacy's boss reveals her racism to Sylvie, suggesting Lacy partly got a new client because of pressure from the NAACP to hire a Black person for the job, and says Lacy's "good diction" made it hard for her tell by phone that he was Black.

Sex

Characters flirt, dance, kiss, and talk about their romantic lives. There's a single sex scene in a hotel room where a man and woman strip down to their undergarments. A young woman is said to have gotten engaged because her aunt found her "messing around" with a boy. The same young woman finds herself pregnant out of wedlock. An extramarital affair. A TV show host makes a raunchy joke. A woman opens her coat in front of her boyfriend to show him she's wearing only lingerie underneath.

Language

"Damn." Some lingo.

Consumerism

Lots of musical groups and artists are mentioned and heard. A variety of classic cars can be seen throughout the film. Wonder Bread, Le Creuset, I Love Lucy, Motown, and the NAACP are mentioned or prominently placed in scenes. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Consistent with the era portrayed, many characters smoke cigarettes and drink cocktails and beers in bars and at home.

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."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAshton2019 December 28, 2020

Awesome!

It's definitely a great movie and I enjoyed the time it was set in. The 1960's they had the best fashion to me. If you're a hopeless romantic you... Continue reading
Adult Written byReilahn December 28, 2020
Kid, 12 years old February 27, 2021

So good!!! But not for younger kids

This movie is AMAZING! However, it is not for kids/teens under 13-14. There is sex (no nudity but undergarments shown) and mature themes that kids wouldn’t unde... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 9, 2021

Eye-opening 1960's Romance!

I adored this eye-opening 1960's romance! Probably for 12-13 year olds because of the mature content (sexual aspects and situations) and because anyone muc... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Themes & Topics

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