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In the City of Sylvia (2011)

Pilar Lopez de Ayala , Xavier Lafitte , Jose Luis Guerin  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Xavier Lafitte
  • Directors: Jose Luis Guerin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Cinema Guild
  • DVD Release Date: May 24, 2011
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004LYVL9A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,810 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.


"One of the year's best. Sublime. Cinematic poetry." --V.A. Musetto, New York Post

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quixotic quest April 25, 2010
This film dispenses with traditional narrative and utilises a 3 day narrative structure: nights separate and punctuate the action of the days.We get variations on similar themes.The 1st day prefigures what's going to happen on the 2nd day,and the 3rd day is an evocation of the 2nd day.The film takes off from an investigation of women's faces as they mysteriously appear in photographs.Stories are based on what observation of people's faces suggest. The film-maker, Guerin, is observing and dreaming.Meaning comes from images and sounds.There are a series of motifs,including audio,which you hear each day,on different scales and at different distances, sometimes in vision,other times out of shot.These make the viewer aware of the structure of variations based on those same motifs,a musical approach.This replaces the idea of cinema as a psychological drama with the idea of echoes and symmetries in structure.Also, there is the use of gestures worked in as in a painting.The film is made for the viewer who will look and listen,reducing the anecdotal plot-line to a minimum, to prioritize the act of looking and listening.

The chief character is a young male artist,El(Xavier Latiffe), who comes to a foreign city,Strasbourg,which is medieval,timeless.He's on a quest,in the labyrinth of a woman,this city of Sylvia.He's like a `parfit knight' seeking a `shining lady',Ella.We need know nothing about him.He's a character who'looks and nothing more'.Defining himself slowly by what he looks at from shot to shot.As the dreamer,he's an icon upon which the viewer projects his own experiences,ideas.El is an active viewer,who dreams about what he sees,he is the Romantic hero from Romantic Art.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful But Requires Patience September 17, 2010
In the small hotel room, somewhere in an unnamed city, an unnamed man (Xavier Lafitte) is seen writing something in his notebook. Then he goes out, walks to a café, where he keeps watching people. You will know what he is watching or looking for, when he starts following a woman (Pilar López de Ayala). But don't expect a Hitchcock-like mystery here. "In the City of Sylvia" is a kind of film which a small coterie of filmgoers will be attracted to. It is also a film that leaves others head scratching as to what it is all about.

Spanish/French film "In the City of Sylvia" is almost dialogue-free. It is not about story, though there is a small one that slowly unfolds. I don't know much about the director, but José Luis Guerín is clearly interested in something else, like viewpoint and camera angle, or scenes themselves that are very beautiful. His camera frequently shows women, but their faces are often only partly revealed to us. The young man also records what he sees on pages, these women's fragmented images, which the camera shows to us, as if inviting viewers to share this young man's experience or memories.

Director's static camera reminds us of the works like Ozu and Kaurismäki. Like them, Barcelona-born director José Luis Guerín has a keen eye for details. Streetcars, café, sunlight, even the smallest things like empty bottles left on the street corner make the sunny city (shot in Strasbourg) and its people look very real.

But Ozu and Kaurismäki are also interested in people, or characters. The story may be simple in their films, but not abstract. José Luis Guerín has pushed the envelope further, maybe, too further. What he thought unnecessary might have been essential to what he was after.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through The Eyes Of An Artist February 23, 2013
Some viewers may suspect in the first 10 minutes this isn't their cup of tea. I say without snobbery or pretension, watch it again one day when you are in a patient and reflective mood. I promise there is something to it. Paris and it's desirable women have a far more distinct rhythm and texture than I saw there as a 28 year old recently married man never being forced to slow down and observe it intensely, which is all this film does. Be open minded and accept it's visual storytelling.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars City, as Shaun '007' Connelly would say it. May 14, 2010
If anyone is familiar with the style and structure of an 'Impulse' advert, the smelly spray that drives men bonkers for the girls, then this film is that idea extrapolated to a feature film length minus the flowers. The film revolves around a cafe stalker who sneaks peeks at women and doodles them whilst he chugs the booze down. It is mesmeric at times with the ambient sound and interesting compositions and framing, but the result is an over long and over embelished French movie postcard.

The use of echoing themes through the film is trite, with the limping florist and fat lady extra being used again and again. In any other film this would have been used more skillfully and subtle as a mechanic, but here it is a wasted event as it jarrs the viewer out of the hypnotic spell the film tries to cast. The echo theme is used with the sounds of birds, particular areas and music too, but again is clumsily handled.

There is very little dialogue in the film, and what bit there is is in French, which is more a collection of bizarre words said in a French accent than a real language. The words spoken by the characters spoil what would have been a great murder mystery, but all that is said takes the picture down a confusing dead end with nothing resolved and leaving this viewer in particular feeling short changed.

Also, the scenes are portrayed as though a documentary edge is employed, but the scenes themselves, as mundane as they are, are so contrived and carefully choreographed that this ruins the continuity. It feels like you are watching a very carefully made ballet but, it is so obvious that everything that happens is considered and unnatural, that it looks silly.
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