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In The City Of Sylvia (Dans La Ville De Sylvia) (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarStar
Review byMatthew Turner12/03/2009

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Superbly directed, utterly mesmerising film that delivers all the pleasures of people-watching in a foreign city on a sunny afternoon.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jose Luis Guerin, In The City of Sylvia stars Xavier Lafitte as an unnamed young sketch artist who spends three days people-watching in Strasbourg, in the hopes of finding a young woman named Sylvia that he met six years previously. After an afternoon sipping beer and sketching women at a cafe, he spots a woman that looks like Sylvia (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) and decides to follow her, but when he finally plucks up the courage to speak to her, it turns out not to be her after all.

The Good
The press notes for In The City of Sylvia describe the film as an homage to cinema, painting, love and women – though it's also about obsession, voyeurism, the impossibility of recapturing the past and the nature of fantasy versus reality. In addition, there's only one scene of proper dialogue in the entire film (unless you count some people ordering in a cafe), yet the amazing soundtrack is filled with snatches of overheard speech, as well as all the sounds you'd hear if you were to close your eyes in a busy city. The sound design is astonishing; don’t be surprised if you turn around in the cinema to ask people to quiet down, only to realize that the sounds are actually from the film.

Essentially, the film provides all the pleasures of people-watching in a foreign city on a sunny afternoon. As a result, Guerin's camera captures some extraordinary moments, whether it's a stolen glance, the dreamy expression on someone's face as they ignore the conversation around them or an extended shot of a woman's hair being blown all over the place in the wind.

The Great
The film is also packed with tiny details that will reward subsequent viewings – for example, the fact that several of the people from the twenty minute cafe scene reappear later on.

Worth seeing?
In the City of Sylvia is a brilliantly directed, richly rewarding film that demands to be seen. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

In The City Of Sylvia (Dans La Ville De Sylvia) (PG)
In The City Of Sylvia (Dans La Ville De Sylvia) has been reviewed by 2 users
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 18:05

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