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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.