Sundance Review: The Most Important Lesson of "Sylvie's Love"

"Sylvie’s Love” is, as it sounds, a love story in many ways. Set in the 1960s, the movie follows young Sylvie and Robert as they meet, (spoiler) fall in love, and push through the hurdles that most love stories face. As with so many love stories, the audience is led to consider their own lives, their own loves, and of course, rejoice at the happy ending. But despite the greatness of the love that Sylvie and Robert share, there is a second love story that, in my opinion, is the superior of the two: Sylvie’s self-love.

Without a doubt, I can tell you what my favorite line of the movie was. To avoid spoilers I’ll give it to you without any context, but I think that the message is loud and clear no matter what:

“I can’t keep trying to be the woman of your dreams while I’m trying to be the woman of mine.”

Let that sink in.

In today’s world, where female empowerment is the norm, hearing a line like this come out of a woman’s mouth would be awesome, yes, but not entirely unprecedented. However, “Sylvie’s Love” looks through a lens that is not only dated, but is also African American. Seeing a woman on screen who traditionally would not be expected to do more than household duties fulfil her own ambitions at the price of the relationship was one of the most empowering things I have seen.

Watching Sylvie develop over the course of an hour an fifty minutes, the audience gets to see a woman become more confident, more of an individual, and more of who she truly wants to be. She gains the ability to stand up for herself, and for what she wants. Gone are her days of making decisions simply to please a man, or to make other people feel more comfortable. She works hard to get where she wants to be, and she allows herself to be proud. This is the kind of energy we need!

Directors who allow their female leads to overcome stereotypes placed upon (in this case, multiple) minorities to become their own, independent characters are much needed in the industry. This movie offers teaching moments left and right for women of all ages. We do not need to be defined by our relationship status, or our social status, or our expected gender roles. Rather, we get to define ourselves by our interests, our hobbies, our strengths, and our passions. Love and relationships are important, yes, but you don’t need a significant other to be whole. You can be whole on your own, and you can shape your own life entirely. Make decisions that are right for you, not because you think they will keep someone else around.

So, with that being said, it’s time to get up and be a girl boss! Or honestly, just a boss in general. I walked out of this movie feeling crazy motivated and crazy empowered, and for that reason alone, I give it 10/10 stars and will be highly recommending it to anyone who asks. Watch it and feel its magic for yourself!

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