Mainstream audiences are likely familiar with actress Tessa Thompson for her roles in tentpole movies like Creed, Thor: Ragnarok and Men in Black: International, but some of her best performances have come from smaller and more intimate projects.
If you’ve seen films more indie like Dear White People, Sorry to Bother You and Little Woods, it’s clear why Thompson’s stock has risen in the last few years. Not only does she make a nice addition to the action genre, Thompson, who is Afro-Panamanian on her father’s side and white, Panamanian and Mexican on her mother’s, is an all-around talent.
It’s even more evident in her newest film Sylvie’s Love where she plays the title character Sylvie Johnson, the daughter of a record store owner living in 1950s Harlem who begins to date a saxophonist despite being engaged. Sylvie’s Love is a throwback film from the Golden Age of Hollywood—an era where white actresses like Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr and Doris Day ruled the silver screen.
In fact, as Sylvie, Thompson is one of the few actresses of color who has been given the opportunity to act in a period romance like Sylvie’s Love. At the center of this old-fashioned love story, Thompson is elegant, sincere and beyond charming. In one scene where she’s dancing (like no one is watching) to Bill Haley and the Comets’ “See You Later Alligator,” the joy she exudes is palpable. Later in the film, after she gets a promotion at her job, she explains to her husband why she’s become exhausted in their marriage.
“I’m tired of trying to be someone that I’m not,” she says. “I can’t be the woman of your dreams while also trying to be the woman of my own. I want to start living my life for myself.”
It’s a punch-to-the-gut scene that Thompson commands with deep emotion and seriousness. We’re all in for Thompson to continue her reign in Asgard as Marvel warrior Valkyrie, but we could use a lot more of what she gives in Sylvie’s Love, too.
Sylvie’s Love premieres on Amazon Prime Dec. 23.