Choke (Clark Gregg, 2008): USA

Reviewed by Byron Potau. Viewed as part of the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival.


Choke from director Clark Gregg is the second Chuck Palahniuk novel to make to the screen following 1999’s Fight Club.  While the first film talked to an entire generation without an identity, Choke talks to no one.

The film follows Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell), a sex addict who goes to sex addict group meetings but slips away to have sex with another attendee.  Victor also has developed a method to get a little money out of people by choking in restaurants and allowing himself to be saved, then mooches off his savior as much as he can.  He spends the rest of his time either at his job at a colonial history park as a tour guide where he must talk and act as though he is from the 1800’s, but seldom does, or he is visiting his mother (played by Anjelica Huston) in a hospital for mentally ill where she suffers from Alzheimer’s and thinks he is one of her lawyers.  The film also contains a bizarre storyline about Victor possibly being the second coming of Christ, and cryptic flashbacks of Victor and his mother as she forces him to memorize code names so she can steal him back from foster mothers.

If all this sounds like a mess that’s because it is.  In Fight Club, people could relate to a loss of control in their lives, but there is really nothing to relate to here.  It all seems invented, and foreign, and furthermore, it doesn’t make much sense. 

There are some bits of humor here and there, but when a major plot point is a missing anal bead there really isn’t much hope for the film.  Perhaps the problem is that Fight Club started in the world of the normal and then veered off whereas Choke begins in a world that hardly anyone could relate to and just gets stranger from there.

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