With his mother (Anjelica Huston) suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, medical school dropout Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) concocts a plan to pay her hospital bills: At restaurants, he feigns choking, waits to be rescued and later hits up his saviors for money. When he’s not scamming unsuspecting diners, Victor — who’s also a sex addict — attends 12-step meetings where he routinely ducks out to boff the equally randy Nico (Paz de la Huerta). He works as a Colonial America reenactor, finds out he could be the kin of Jesus, all while trying to find himself against some pretty absurd obstacles. Based on the novel “Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk, the writer of “Fight Club.” Clark Gregg, a longtime actor, makes his directorial debut in this film.

Rating: 8 out of 10

I was a huge fan of Palahnuik’s book by the same name. It’s one of the best I’ve read in recent years, and Gregg pays good homage to it while giving his own take on the source material.

It’s an absurd character — a guy who is a sex addict who thinks he could be the son of Jesus Christ and fakes choking in restaurants because someone will save him which makes him feel alive and he scams the people who save him for money. He’s a total bastard, but I think sometimes the best antagonists often are. Huston is sharp as his mother, a woman who has lost her memory and mind but was once a wild “artist” who would often kidnap her son from foster care and take him on trips to steal cars.

As a viewer, we have mixed feeling. Victor is a real son-of-a bitch, but he’s working hard to take care of his sick mother who has no idea who he is. He visits her while she complains that he never visits. It’s a frustration many of us have faced when we had a family member with Alzheimer’s disease. Good characters are like people, there are contradictions and character traits that push us away and keep us close. Sam Rockwell is spot on in this role, and Gregg delivers a smart, sophisticated drama that knows when to take a step back and have a sense of humor.

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6 responses to “Choke

  1. I really enjoyed this movie. I’d love to see a film adaptation of Palahniuk’s Survivor.

  2. I loved the book but haven’t the film yet.

  3. Loved the book and was avoiding the film. Solid review,and, at 8/10, I’ll give it a try.
    I am hoping for an adaptation of Rant. Maybe Spike Jonze could direct.

    • Is “Rant” like “Rent” but with a southern accent?

      I really loved the book. I think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I think the film does an earnest job of recreating it while having its own take. That’s the way film is, it’s a new take on a story. The spirit of the book is in the movie, and I’ll watch anything with Sam Rockwell. I love him.

  4. Great post!

  5. This is one of the nice blogs I’ve come across. I don’t share all of your views, but it’s a great looking site.

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