Writer-director and musician, Eugene Ashe, has pulled together all of his creative passions in Sylvie’s Love, his second feature.
Premiering at Sundance this year, it tells the story of the eponymous Sylvie, (Tessa Thompson) in the late 50s in Harlem. She is engaged to Lacy (Alano Miller), but whilst working at her father’s record store she meets, and falls in love with, jazz saxophonist Robert (played by Nnamdi Asomugha).
This is an unashamedly old-fashioned love story. In setting the story in this period, Ashe is clearly also creating a homage to a certain kind of film of the time: the star-crossed lovers. Yet this is not just a feel-good tear-jerker. Ashe’s screenplay dips into racism and sexism. Sylvie’s dream is to become the first woman-of-colour to produce prime time TV. Lacy lands a big work contract mainly because the client is in trouble with the NAACP. And of course, the man’s job comes first: the woman’s job is just a paid hobby. Ashe delivers a slice of television history, music history, and social history.
But perhaps the most refreshing and delightful aspect of this feature is the music, pervading as it does both the narrative and the soundtrack. The choice of years in which the story is set is quite deliberate, covering as it does the period when jazz faded from being the main popular music, and rock and roll became ascendant.
Sylvie’s Love is certainly syrupy, and maybe even a tad corny, but Ashe is so committed to his project that a charming authenticity shines through.
This is one for the jazz lovers, the lovers of gentle social commentary, and…well…just the lovers.
Sylvie’s Love premieres on Amazon Prime on December 23rd.