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Friday
Sep262008

Movie Review - 'Choke'

Choke

Starring Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, and Kelly Macdonald
Directed by Clark Gregg
Rated R


choke_galleryposter.jpg Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) has a problem. He's a sex addict. He attends group therapy sessions, primarily to meet new women to have sex with. He's clearly out of control, so much so that he can't see the cliff he went over from where he is now.

Victor Mancini has a problem. His mother (Anjelica Huston) is slowly slipping from reality. She's in an expensive hospital that doesn't treat her so much as it keeps her alive. Because Victor doesn't make much money working as a street character in a recreation of a colonial town, one of those places that would not exist without school field trips, he has to find alternate means of bankrolling his mother's stay.

Victor Mancini has a problem. Rather than getting a second job in telemarketing or just a better first job, Victor cons innocent people out of their money through pity. He goes to restaurants, purposely chokes on food, then falls in the laps of the richest-looking diners. When they save his life, he lays on the sob stories about how he needs money for this or that, and they always oblige.

Choke is a warped love story for a warped world. Underneath it all, it's about a boy's devotion for his mother. And his mother, frankly, doesn't even deserve his devotion, which makes us feel even more sympathy for Victor and what a screw-up he really is. The movie is an adaptation of the novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, and writer-director Clark Gregg has done about as good a job as you can stripping the themes and the basic characters and structure out of the novel and turning it into a film narrative that flows the way it should.

It always helps to have Sam Rockwell on your side. He treats his weird characters the way Henry Fonda treated Tom Joad or Juror #8, with empathy and with honesty. You can actually believe Victor Mancini exists, less because you have a level of faith in humanity that allows you to think that there's a sexaholic grifter who works in a colonial reenactment, and more because Rockwell creates a person and not a one- or two-dimensional character who only fits in the pages of a Chuck Palahniuk novel.

Victor is a sweet guy, really, or at least, he's always wanted to be.

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Reader Comments (1)

I really enjoyed CHOKE. Oddly, it seems to have a different tone than the book, but it worked enough in its own right. Sadly, I don't think it will find much of an audience outside of Palahniuk fans.

Saturday, September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

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