Film Review: ‘Sylvio’

Variety | 10/12/2017 | Nick Schager
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Curios don’t get much more curious than “Sylvio,” which has the distinction of being both the weirdest, and most affecting, feature ever made starring a man in a monkey suit — or, to be more precise, a man in a monkey suit wearing a monkey suit. The story of a forlorn “ape” who has a 9-to-5 office cubicle job and finds fame by becoming the very thing he doesn’t want to be, this charming lo-fi indie from actor-director Kentucker Audley and director Albert Birney is attuned to its own eccentric wavelength, equal parts absurd and poignant. It won’t attract more than a niche audience, but a cult following for this bizarro effort seems quite possible.

Based on “Simply Sylvio,” a series of avant-garde Vine videos created by Birney, the Kickstarter-funded “Sylvio” details the solitary existence of a Baltimore-based gorilla named Sylvio Bernardi (credited as himself), played by a person wearing a suit and tie and sunglasses over an inexpressive animal costume. Sylvio is employed at a debt collection agency where — because he doesn’t speak — he makes phone calls using a computer that robotically verbalizes his typing. It’s an unrewarding vocation, and Sylvio thus finds fulfillment primarily in his free time, be it by playing basketball or by making puppet shows titled “The Quiet Times With Herbert Herpel,” about a bald, mustached middle-aged gentleman who, in each episode, carries out a simple task, such as enjoying a Christmas feast or chopping firewood.

Sylvio - Routine - Field - Debt - Alan

Sylvio’s monotonous day-to-day routine is upended when he’s sent out into the field to collect on the outstanding debt of Alan Reynolds (Audley), who hosts a daily TV talk show in his basement dubbed “The Afternoon Show With Alan Reynolds.” Mistaken for a guest who juggles, Sylvio smashes his props and immediately becomes a small-screen sensation, soon starring in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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