Choke

"OK"

Choke Review


Let's face it: No one thought Fight Club would be anything other than another flash of David Fincher directorial determination when it first came out. Critics and audiences were not enamored with the machismo and mayhem epic, even with stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in the lead. No, it took a few years for the cinematic scales to fall from everyone's eyes, turning a cult flick into a classic. Perhaps actor turned auteur Clark Gregg is hoping for the same time-aided appreciation. His interpretation of Club author Chuck Palahniuk's novel Choke is equally quirky and unsettled. One senses, however, no future re-evaluation for this uneven effort.

Since leaving medical school, sex addict Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) has worked tirelessly to keep his mentally deranged mother (Anjelica Huston) in a private nursing home. By day, he's a "historical recreationist" at a local colonial village. By night, he travels to various restaurants around town and pretends to choke. Once saved, he hits up his good Samaritan marks for any and all kinds of financial assistance. Desperate to learn who his father is, Victor teams up with a new doctor named Paige Marshall (Kelly MacDonald) to decipher his mother's memories, as well as translate an old diary which may provide some clues. Of course, in between consultations, it's nothing but fornication and copulation.

Choke has one of those titles which describes its success as a film to a succinct single syllable. Like the talented athlete who can't get his team into the playoffs, or a golfer that muffs the easy putt for championship glory, Gregg's riff on Palahniuk's concepts (the film varies somewhat from the book) never delivers the knockout blow. Instead, we end up with several interesting narrative threads that barely hold together.

At any given moment, we are intrigued by Victor's rate of random intercourse, his unusual past with his nonconformist mother, the beefy best friend Denny (well played by Brad William Henke) who can't stop touching himself, and the determined doctor offering hope to our hapless hero. But Gregg can't locate a way to connect the dots, to make the various outlandish allusions add up to something substantial. Instead, Choke is a movie of moments -- some good, some groan-inducing, and a few that make no friggin' sense whatsoever. But thanks to aggressive turns by Rockwell and a beaming Huston (she steals every scene she is in, including the '70s-spiced flashbacks), we are willing to stick with the struggles.

Gregg clearly forgets that most of Palahniuk's prose is punditry. Fight Club centered on the emasculation of the modern male. Survivor mocked our always-crass consumerism. By making the title con a mere sidebar, by substituting another "twist ending" for more of the author's takes on addiction and conspiracy theorizing, Gregg undercuts the meaning of his movie. Instead, he hopes to get by on the oddness of ideas, the jarring juxtaposition between a parent dying of Alzheimer's and a son who can't keep his libido in check. Toss in Victor's unusual possible ancestry (let's just say he's entitled to a God complex) and you've got nothing but nutty non-sequiturs.

Still, if one is capable of completely forgetting the normative needs of a movie, if they can back off from the occasionally confrontational approaches to simply enjoy some fine performances, Choke will go down easy. All the shock and schlock posturing will have very little influence on your possible enjoyment. But for anyone who found Fight Club a manifesto for a less-numbing new world order, Gregg's interpretation of this part of Palahniuk will feel like a minor message at best.

Late for the Renaissance faire.



Choke

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 30th October 2008

Box Office USA: $2.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $3.8M

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 74 Rotten: 64

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Tripp Vinson, Temple Fennell

Starring: as Ida J. Mancini, as Paige Marshall, as Victor Mancini, as Lord High Charlie, as Denny, as Ursula, as Cherry Daiquiri / Beth, Chuck Palahniuk as Passenger (uncredited), as Internet Date / Gwen, as Detective Ryan, as Phil, as Nico

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.