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also known as En la ciudad de Sylvia

In the City of Sylvia2008

  • 3.4
A young artist searches the winding streets of Strasbourg for an old love in Jose Luis Guerin's acclaimed and exceedingly beautiful IN THE CITY OF SYLVIA. During a languid summer, a young man spends his afternoons sketching in an outdoor café. He is looking for a woman he met several years earlier. Amidst a buzz of conversation and activity, he sketches the many beautiful women around him, any one of whom could be her. Then one afternoon, he thinks he sees her and sets off through the city to confront his memory.

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Official selection of the 2007 Venice Film Festival.


7 members like this review

The true protagonist is the city and its denizens in the languidness of slow summer days. Daydreaming, being caught up in nostalgia, looking for the phantom of a lost love - these are all European themes of a delicate artistic sensibility. Even the stalking of the would-be Sylvia, in the first part of the movie, becomes an act of surreal, ephemeral following through old and beautiful streets. The limbo of the movie turns it into a true study of the city as an open space, while its inhabitants are revealed caught in a hybrid, intermediary, an in-between public space of reverie. The almost absence of dialogue is superb. I felt I was there, searching myself for something I had lost in that imaginary European city...

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (25)

190680.small
top reviewer

The true protagonist is the city and its denizens in the languidness of slow summer days. Daydreaming, being caught up in nostalgia, looking for the phantom of a lost love - these are all European themes of a delicate artistic sensibility. Even the stalking of the would-be Sylvia, in the first part of the movie, becomes an act of surreal, ephemeral following through old and beautiful streets. The limbo of the movie turns it into a true study of the city as an open space, while its inhabitants are revealed caught in a hybrid, intermediary, an in-between public space of reverie. The almost absence of dialogue is superb. I felt I was there, searching myself for something I had lost in that imaginary European city...

7 members like this review
54d535dd2ab292ff3f6cd303afaa2bfd?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0027
top reviewer

meaningless pursuit by a young man of a girl he met six years befor(what, when trhey were 14?)..he doesn't seem to remember what she looked like..strasbourg looks pretty enough but nothing much happens in these 90 minutes..

4 members like this review
1087fe52157bcbaa7ac25a89ce4f02d5?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0059
top reviewer

VERY VERY SLOW!!! Went no where! But loved being on the streets in Europe!

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

Can we ever really regain what is lost? Even if we do, is the thing regained the same as what our memory tells us? A young man clings to the memory of a hazy evening at a bar six years prior and tries to seek out the woman that he remembers from that night. Paris, with its labyrinthine network of alleys and streets, is the perfect setting for this. As Él navigates his way through the city on his search for a woman lost to time, he also loses himself. We catch ourselves identifying with a man who struggling, with vague motive, to capture a moment that slipped away. In the process, he the quite obvious and profound interactions that could exist if only he would forsake his seemingly romantic obsession. His search is reminiscent of a widow's obsession with their dead spouse, clinging to every reminder of them as if one could reconstruct lost people from the fragments of similarity gathered. José Guerín plays it slow and although this may annoy popular film aficionados, I think it is a smart move here. Time is lost on Él, the main character. Moreover, there is no climax that needs to be rushed to in this plot ... Él will likely never find the woman he remembers, even if he does physically find her. I really enjoyed the film, a recommendation I would not make to everyone; the viewer will need to dig deep and feel the character, Él, in order to get something out of this film. If the viewer can empathically connect with him, the resulting perspective will make the film worthwhile.

3 members like this review
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filmmaker

This is a beautifully shot film for people who like to sit in a cafe in the waning hours of an afternoon and watch other people. "Sylvia" is a name that means "forest," and this film is filled with a forest of women, mostly very beautiful, who are observed by our gently voyeuristic "hero," a young (and equally beautiful) artist, who sketches the women he watches, while he waits for the elusive Sylvie who he supposedly met six years before near this spot. Did this ever really happen, or is this just the excuse of a man who may just be painfully shy? Eventually he chooses a woman to follow, which leads the film down its darker alleyways, until the artist finally unmasks himself. The theme and seemingly endless variations on the female face that are presented here are enough to keep you going for some time. Just don't expect anything much to happen beyond the fascinating and shifting rhythms of the Paris street. That's a little thin for me... but I did watch the entire film, so I guess I was hooked, after all.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Art, beauty, form and the figure are the substance of this film -- very well crafted. I loved the replication in cinematic terms of the bar maid of A Bar at the Folies-Bergère -- and then I wondered if there were other allusions like this that I may have missed. Then I spotted the Girl with a Pearl Earring, and some figures of Gauguin's Tahitian figures ... Beautiful facades, detached voices, accents. Beautiful music. Deliberate, patient, sublime. "He" was the artist seeking, conjuring a muse. Pygmalion.

2 members like this review

I have watched hundreds and hundreds of Foreign Films.

I watched this one for 10 minutes and kept waiting for it to start.

I now watch it at night instead of taking Melatonin.

2 members like this review
Eb8384348cbf7a13ad28eae54e832678?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0073
top reviewer

nice looking women, great street shots, I'm still waiting for the message to arrive. Visual were very good but darn if the piece couldn't be better. Great piece for a film school class to analyze and figure out how the piece could do a better job.

1 member likes this review

GOOd movie if you like movies watching people walk through an old cobblestone streets of Strausburg.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

A visual and aural, urban masterpiece emerging from the eternal Western theme of fantasy/reality and portraying thinking and imagining as genuine activities with actual results that may be perilous, even dangerous—and all shown in a movie set in France where only one cigarette is briefly smoked by the protagonist!

Geurín's representation of a French café—especially when you experience it with headphones—distills that lived experience totally in fractionalized images of conversations and silent dramas, none of which appears to be acted, except insofar as watching at a café automatically theatricalizes the everyday from the point of view of the observer, who here is the one of the many observed: the movie continually reminds you that you are watching the watcher, the young man fantasizing through his eyes, populating a city with his desire to see, to see once more what he believes he's already seen. Yet there's no intellectualizing of what's shown in pictorial and acoustic formalities that seemingly arise naturally from what is heard and seen in that city. Except for the Je T'aime graffiti motif, a literal leit-motif, when Godard-like moments occur, such as folding in public advertising so that it participates in the characters' scenes, Guerin inserts no exclamation points, instead repeating compositions and acoustics to create a movie in which the symmetries of sight and sound appear equally natural and predetermined, repeated and re-reflected, often in sheet-glass that will recall you to images in Guerín's later "The Academy of Muses."

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top reviewer

I love this film_everything about it_ the pace the stillness the girl watching_night 1 2 &3_looking for a girl in a dream & trying to find her_the wrong Sylvie_she's awesome_the guys is beautiful & i love his drawings_it's amazing how amazing faces are_really incredible just watching & listening_i'm there & i love being there_every shot is wonderful_it's like perfect

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top reviewer

A hazy and romantic bit of whimsy that I found impossible not to enjoy.

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top reviewer

I just really didn't like this at all. I tried something different, and just didn't care for it. Other reviewers will give a better review.

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top reviewer

elegant cinematography. romantic, poetic. people watching and ally walking. some very beautiful moments. chasing dreams.

61a133f1ee9d3117ca9618d8500b20fc?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0057
top reviewer

Exquisitely presented, spellbindingly lite.

I walked away from this movie feeling a bit lost but it seemed to delve into retrospection as in everyone in the movie was doing this. That's all I've got. If Xavier Lafitte was not that attractive, I would have given it 2 stars.

Slow. Lovely scenery. I adore Paris and France and the French Language. Love those Trams! Even better than ours. The Guy or Main character is lucky he followed Sylvain as long as he did without Her asking For Help. That was unrealistic. Nothing Happened and Hardly any French Spoken!!! What a Shame!!!

Should have been French Directors and Producers not Spanish.

movie not playing after 3 mins.

Of note only for the atmosphere of the streets of Strasbourg and sounds of footsteps on concrete. Could not get interested in the young man or the elusive Sylvia.

It was extremely slow and no build up. The film maker should have just done a walking tour film of Strasbourg.

Very Imaginative.

Beautifully shot film of the city streets and the women occupying them. A little slow, but it keeps you watching to see if the main character finds the woman he is searching for throughout the movie...

it didn't have a point really!

i found it very interesting

This is a brilliant film!