'Ape' at PHI Centre: the strangest slacker comedy to hit the big screen
The sheer absurdity, existential malaise and uncompromising style of Ape, a nearly plotless debut feature by American director Joel Potrykus, will either mesmerize you or irk you to no end. Either way, it’s hard to look away.
On the heels of his Best Emerging Director prize at the 65th Locarno Film Fest, the 35-year-old Potrykus gives Montreal audiences a peek into his disturbing mind with this Faustian tale of a talentless, utterly pathetic stand-up comic living in an equally dull suburb of Michigan. Trevor (a captivating Joshua Burge) perfectly embodies what we think of as the archetypal loser: young, immature and unable to fend for himself, he wastes his days away drinking slurpees, playing at the arcade and burning shit up (he cultivates a liking for throwing Molotov cocktails into his neighbours’ backyards.)
Joshua Burge in Ape
As he continues to rack up an impressive string of embarrassingly bad stand-up performances, this king-of-the-slackers and promising pyromaniac makes a deal with a fruit vendor dressed up as the devil, which only serves to crank up his sociopathic tendencies…
Potrykus, who wrote, produced, directed, shot and edited this inventive piece of guerrilla filmmaking, was inspired by his “mundane and annoying” experiences as a struggling stand-up comic in New York and Michigan. As Trevor is reminded by a fellow stand-up comic in the movie, after making a terrible joke, “It’s not dumb, it’s all on delivery.” I couldn’t have described Ape better myself.