Choke

Choke

(2008)

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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Flicks Review

Fight Club shouldn't have worked. Chuck Palahniuk's writing isn't really supposed to be filmed. Choke's slightly awkward blend of gross-out laughs and uncompromising themes of sex, religion and mental illness shows why.

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.

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The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 4 ratings, 4 reviews
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Just got back from seeing it and I thought it was one of the best films I've seen in ages. I can't believe the number of reviews I've just read making it out it is predestrian. I'm sure a mjor reason why I enjoyed it so much was because of the strength of the book, but I thought the way it was filmed and acted was effective.
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.

12/10!!Hide


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.


Saw a Sneaky Pictures preview of this - i thought it was really funny. The flashback bits are boring, and it's what one might call "uneven". But it's a low budget charm, and Sam Rockwell is great.


Choke has three pitch-perfect central performances. And a funny script woven from morbidly fascinating material. Trouble is, its far too tame to do justice to this material.

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


The Press Reviews

  • An uneven take on Palahniuk’s fourth novel, Rockwell and Huston shining brightly enough to eclipse a patchy directorial debut. Full Review

  • The film feels flat. I don't know how to express my criticism much more than to say that things unfold before you, but you never really engage in the world beyond just watching it. Full Review

  • For much of the way, the film just feels like it's pressing too hard to make an impression. Full Review

  • It adds up to an entertaining collection of vignettes strung together by a sarcastic loudmouth whose heart is breaking under his sophomoric bravado. Full Review

  • While the movie will definitely not be to everyone's taste, black-hearted romantics will find Choke easy to swallow. Full Review

  • Palahniuk's antic absurdism is duly present, but the hurtling pace and barely-underlying nihilism that transferred to screen so vividly in "Fight Club" aren't much in evidence here. Full Review