Black Love is the most beautiful force in the universe, isn't it? We crave it, pray for it, call to it and long to feel and see it, yet when it lands in our laps, many of us have no idea how to receive it -- especially onscreen.
How did something as natural as breathing somehow become so shocking and extraordinary? When did dysfunctional relationships become the standard instead of the exception?
Well, ask yourself...when was the last time you watched a normal, healthy Black romance play out before your eyes? Not since the days of classics like Love & Basketball and Love Jones, right?
Right -- until now.
The holidays blessed us with a delicious gift, the sweet, sexy and sumptuous Sylvie's Love. It's a story of beautiful Black romance, a tale of nearly star-crossed lovers that twists, turns and pulls our hearts in every direction as it winds through the 1950s and 60s.
(via Refinery 29): Sylvie's Love follows the gentle love story between Sylvie (Tessa Thompson) and Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a mismatched pair who find themselves entangled in a complicated romance during a hot Harlem summer in 1957. Sylvie comes from a bougie, middle-class family, while Robert is of the blue-collar variety and has big dreams of becoming a legendary jazz musician. To make things worse, Sylvie's got a whole fiancé pining over her across the seas in South Korea.
Written and directed by Eugene Ashe and starring Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha, Sylvie's Love seduces us with hypnotic chemistry and a longing to see love conquer all. Yet even in the midst of watching the story unfold, we can feel a separate tension building within us just beneath the surface.
We're waiting for the other shoe to fall.
After years of TV shows, movies, music and books where trauma overshadows Black love, we've been subconsciously trained to expect tragedy. Black people -- and especially Black women -- have been fed a constant diet of disappointment in entertainment, through wave after wave of toxic relationships and endless examples of injustice in society.
That has taken more of a toll on us than you think. We're so used to being triggered that a real Black love story -- the thing we've wanted to see forever -- now feels so foreign that we're almost suspicious when it appears. Yet because we think it's too good to be true, we cannot accept it -- from our movies and in our own lives.
The saying “misery loves company” is absolutely true, so in time, we become what we watch. We deserve to love and be loved, to feel good without fear, and to see the lives and experiences we want to play out in front of us. Normally.
Sylvie's Love is full of delicious drama but without more damaging background trauma. Love can be messy, and often is, but it doesn't always have combined with outside soul-shredding life events.
Black love is powerful, natural and necessary. It's one thing to say it, but it's another to really see it, feel it and finally allow ourselves to have it.
Here's to hoping Sylvie's Love is just the beginning of a beautiful new normal.