Sylvio is a warm hug, yet one that goes on a little too long. Based on a popular series of Vines, the film premiered earlier this year at SXSW and is now finally screening publically.
The film, like the shorts within it, is a quiet contemplative journey into ambition and isolation. Sylvio Bernardi leads an unfulfilling desk job until he becomes an overnight sensation. Yet what garners him fame goes against his nature, leading to the central conflict of the film. Whereas the world wants Sylvio to destroy and give in to his animalistic nature, he wants peace. The amount of heart a silent gorilla can convey here is astounding, helped by his human friend Alan.
The silent nature of our main character causes issues, however. With an 80 minute runtime, you’d expect the film to move along at a brisk pace– instead, the film is a peaceful journey. Scenes linger, the score soothes, and the film feels meditative. The slow nature of the film permeates the visual landscape as well. Sets are sparse, colors are muted. The film, like Sylvio, clashes with the forceful actions he must partake in. And while slow films certainly have their place, they aren’t my genre of choice.
The quiet nature of the film also clashes slightly with its status as a comedy. Because while there are certainly laughs and funny moments, the comedy results more in warmth and smiles. Laughing too hard would disturb the peace, so the audience doesn’t know where to stand.
While the rules of the world never make entire sense, as Sylvio appears to be the only animal-human hybrid, that’s the point– he feels isolated from the world. Whether we’re truly supposed to believe he’s a gorilla or a man in a suit becomes irrelevant. Thematically, the film provides a strong look into isolation and the pursuit one’s dreams. As a film, however, Sylvio meanders for far too long–failing to keep viewers engaged.
Score: 6.4/10 – Okay