In The City Of Sylvia Review

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A young writer/artist returns to Strasbourg apparently to try and spot a girl he once knew 6 years earlier. The watching and waiting begins.


Graham Greene once suggested that the perfect film showed life as it’s lived. On this premise, José Luis Guerin’s reworking of his 2007 featurette has produced a masterly treatise on insular existence in an age of voyeurism and surveillance.

Were it not for his Renaissance-Romantic beauty and his constant sketching, Xavier Lafitte’s Él would cut a sinister figure observing women drinking in a Strasbourg café, then following Ella (Pilar López de Ayala) along its winding streets. However, Guerin makes ingenious use of planes and perspectives to reinforce Lafitte’s credentials, and brings an everyday artistry to this near-silent docu-romance.

This has surprising depth for a piece with such a light touch and simple concept.