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In the City of Sylvia

Posted by martinteller on January 12, 2012

This is often described as a movie about people watching.  It might be better if that’s all it was, especially in a city so aggressively overpopulated with ridiculously attractive women under 30 (none more ridiculously attractive than Pilar Lopez de Ayala, good lord that’s a gorgeous gal).  But the voyeuristic pleasures eventually feel creepy, perhaps because the camera keeps turning on its creepy protagonist, the unnamed character played by Xavier Lafitte.  Are we supposed to share his fascination with beautiful strangers, or be a little skeeved out by it?  When we finally learn the reason for his hanging around staring at ladies, it doesn’t really make him any more sympathetic.  There’s also an inescapable contrivedness about the whole thing, with its oh-so-clever repeated graffiti (“Laure, je t’aime”… a tribute to an old flame? an inside joke? are we expected to be intrigued by the shallow “mystery” of it?), oh-so-clever use of reflections, and oh-so-clever recurring extras wandering in and out of the frame.  I think there is thoughtful material here, and there are certainly some lovely aesthetic qualities, but it just has an air of phoniness to it.  Rating: Fair


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