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In the City of Sylvia (En la ciudad de Sylvia)

Film One Star
There aren't many films that I have felt the desire to walk out of, and most of them have been at festivals. Films I wouldn't normally watch and usually have my eyes opened to.

Not In the City of Sylvia though. This film was a painful exercise in nothing happening and a long time taken for that nothing to happen.

It was so painful three critics left before it finished, there was much uncomfortable shuffling, and the lights were even turned on in the cinema before the end.

For the most part this film was about people watching, just watching people, and sometimes not even hearing them.

We were treated to long open shots of streets with random people walking through them, next to no dialogue just background noise, and the longest scene of following someone I've ever witnessed.

There was some good in there though, there was a story that could have come out but never properly did. Here's the story before I discuss the story that never really had a chance.

Plot.pngIntheCityofSylvia.jpgA man is sitting at a café day after day observing and sketching people, mainly women. He recognises one and sets about following her when she leaves the café, he seems quite infactuated with her. He follows her for a long time, losing and refinding her a couple of times. Eventually he speaks to her, finds she's not who she thought she was, and heads off. That night he gets drunk, laid, and goes about sketching people again.

Yup, that's your film, and for the first time I'm really not concerned about spoilers as there are none. Really. There's nothing to spoil.

Okay, there's something that could have been there, there is a relationship that threatens to spring up between the almost stalker and the stalkee, but it's totally missed or avoided.

It was sad because at that point the film threatened to become something interesting. But that was only for a few moments before returning to the mundane shots of nothing. There does continue to be a hint of a story, but it remains unexplored, totally.

I should have realised that this wasn't my kind of film when the opening shot showed the main character sitting and staring for a good few minutes without any dialogue and the biggest action being the slow movement of a pencil.

The following shots of the camera merely staring at a none too busy street scene should also have been a solid indicator, it was for a few other critics.

When we did get a brief exchange of dialogue, well into the running time of the film, it was poorly written. Clunky, repetitive, awkward, and again painful.

To be fair though the female lead was interesting to watch and delivered her lines with conviction, and the hinted relationship between them did provide a little interest. I could also see something positive in the shots of watching people at the beginning of the film.

However none of this makes a film, and the rest was excrutiatingly slow and drawn out.

Release Dates: Currently France 10th September 2008.

Search for In the City of Sylvia on Filmstalker stores
Filmstalker's Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008 page
UK IMDB Film Details



For the most part this film was about people watching, just watching people, and sometimes not even hearing them.

Oh I know this very well. I saw a play that dealt with this, it's Peter Handke's The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, at least this film had conversations for the play, which ran for an hour and a half had none, it was just people walking on the stage. and at least for me the novelty wore off quickly after the first 30 minutes.

That sounds almost as painful Simone - did you stay to watch the whole thing?

I could of left but I sat through the whole thing, it made me a much better person believe me!

You'd probably snicker if I told you it was my favorite film of 2008 so far. :-)

What, City of Sylvia?

Well film is subjective, everyone has their own opinions and all that stuff...but yes, I think I might have a wee snigger, but in a nice way.



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Movable Type 3.34

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