Based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club), this satiricial comedy is about sex addiction, religion and dementia. Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is a sex-addicted dropout who has to pay for his deranged mother’s (Anjelica Huston) expensive hospital bills. He does this by spending his days working as a 'historical reenactor' at a colonial themepark. But, at night, Victor runs a scam by pretending to choke in posh restaurants to form relationships with the wealthy patrons who save him.
Then his mother reveals that she has withheld the shocking truth of his father's identity, so Victor enlists the aid of his best friend, Denny (Brad William Henke) and his mother's beautiful physician, Dr. Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald), to solve the mystery before the truth of his parentage is lost forever. Whilst shagging everyone he meets, of course.
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Adapted by debutant director Clark Gregg from Palahniuk's 2001 novel, the film follows Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell), a sex-addict whose mother (Anjelica Huston) suffers from dementia. To fund his mother's psychiatric care, by day he works with his similarly lustful friend Denny (Brad William Henke) at a colonial theme park and by night he scams rich restaurant-goers into giving him cash by intentionally choking on his food and having them 'save' him so they form some kind of bond. ... More
Sounds improbable so far? It is. But despite the film's title, the choking is an almost expendable detail, a recurring skit. Choke is really a twisted love story, centring on Victor's relationship with a nurse at his mother's hospital (Kelly Macdonald) and dealing with the fallout when he discovers that his parents really aren't who he thought they were. At all.
It's intriguingly off-the-wall stuff, and Palahniuk's pitch-black worldview means there is plenty here for the brain to chow down on. But there are also segments of the film that treat Victor and Denny's coitus fixations as the springboard for smutty gags that are occasionally funny, more often misjudged.
A Chuck Palahniuk adap for the Judd Apatow generation then? Possibly... but it's no Fight Club, and it's no Superbad either.
The Peoples' Reviews
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Thought the acting was brilliant, liked Rockwells cocky personality full, not being a pretenious arragant tw@t, like most annoying sh!ts in films today.
One review by... More Empire calls it a whinging white man anxiety film, I thought it was deep, and touching, even if it was a bit wacky in how tells it.
Saw this twice. Better with a big audience. But I agree with the Flicks review. Felt a bit patchy. A bit weird-for-the-sake-of-weird, and it didn't really work as a whole. Started off quite creatively, but as the film progressed it got more and more conventional. Sam Rockwell, however, is great in it.
While "shock value" is perhaps the cheapest currency in modern cinema, surely a story like this presents a bona fide case for crossing the lines of good taste. The film misses this opportunity to push its audiences buttons, and does so by a mile. Only the squarest of squarejohns would find this film truly... More provocative.
Choke is, visually speaking, also the laziest film I've seen in years. This might sound like a prosaic complaint, but trust me: it adheres to the coverage-montage formula of establishing wide shots, followed by practical mid-shots, followed by punctuating close-shots so dogmatically that I found myrself wishing for some of the same histrionic razzle-dazzle which usually turns me right off of movies like this. The pictures here do not tell the story: the pictures simply show the actors saying their lines.
However... since these actors, and these lines, are so entertaining, I can't deny that I enjoyed the film. It just felt like a let-down is all. There was potential here for a really good movie; instead I got one that was merely OK. As script-writer, Clark Gregg has done a respectable job of adapting Chick Palahniuk's novel on paper; as director, however, he's wasted a lot of film...Hide