Outre filmmaking which manages to blend and balance high-brow and low-brow sensibilities with impressive ease, Kentucker Audley & Albert Birney's Sylvio is an uncanny character study that is sagacious in its deconstruction of identity, providing a surprisingly potent portrait of the therapeutic-nature which creative expression can have on the individual's overall sense of self-worth. A story in which its main protagonist wears a gorilla mask for the entire running time, Sylvio is a singular study of everyday loneliness and alienation, one which uses this faceless & voiceless anthropomorphic character to elicit universal emotional truths about self. Sylvio is a character study through-and-through, one that follows this primate on a quest for self-relevance and eventually self-discovery, following his slow rise and quick fall on local Television after he becomes a minor celebrity due to his penchant for causing on-air mishaps. Given the low-brow set-up, Sylvio as a film slowly lulls the viewer into its off-beat world, with filmmakers Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney transversing the life and struggles of this primate, revealing high-brow assertions through the execution of its unsophisticated design. The aesthetic itself is simplistic by definition, yet the visual design is stylish and astutely composed, with the film bringing visual storytelling to an aesthetic typically attributed to low-brow slice-of-life cinema. Through Sylvio's personal journey, the filmmakers satirize the commercialization of artistic endeavors, showcasing the corrosive effects it can have on the individual nature of artistic expression. Sylvio as a character becomes a victim of success, a celebrity known and cherished for something that simply doesn't fulfill his internal creative drive. The fame and credibility that he inherits due to these on-air mishaps provide no internal satisfaction to him, inevitably leaving him just as isolated and empty as he felt from the onset of this story, stuck in the general malaise of his day-to-day, 9-to-5 job as a debt collector. Sylvio is a character who is unable to fulfill his own individual needs creatively, and through this zany story the filmmakers showcase how self-worth itself often comes from within, with Sylvio's alienation and everyday loneliness stemming from his own dissatisfaction with himself, not outside actors. In this sense, Sylvio is a testament to the individualist nature of art and creative expression, showcasing how this anthropomorphic character only finds self-satisfaction and worth through fulfilling his own personal drive to express himself. External analysis, good or bad, only comes secondary to internal satisfaction, with Sylvio as a film being assertive in showcasing importance of loving oneself first and foremost, recognizing that happiness and self-worth come from within. The ending itself is an optimistic testament to these ideals- with Sylvio garnering a standing ovation from the audience for the form of expression he values. Sylvio has achieved external praise but not at the expense of internal satisfaction, the perfect end-cap to a strange film that is an optimistic, one-of-a-kind story about the therapeutic, internal nature of personal expression and the connective nature it has externally.
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