Choke

  • Year:2008
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Clark Gregg
  • Cast:Anjelica Huston, Sam Rockwell
  • Release Date:October 30, 2008
  • Distributor:Fox Searchlight
  • Running time:89 minutes
  • Film Worth:$13.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

“…enjoyably discordant…”

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In 1999, Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox splashed out on Brad Pitt, Ed Norton and director David Fincher for an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's lyrical underground novel Fight Club, but found its profits stymied by a disappointing turnout from the author's fans (who amusingly call themselves The Cult) and a tepid public response to the film's global saturation advertising campaign. While the expensive Fight Club proved a hit on DVD, Choke - a second Palahniuk adaptation from Fox - is slighter and tighter than its blockbuster cousin, shot in the neighbourhood of just five percent of its predecessor's budget.

Picking up on Fight Club's themes of self-loathing social dissonance - but skipping much of its macho posturing - Choke is enjoyably discordant in tone and boasts an enviable indie cache with actors like Sam Rockwell, Kelly Macdonald and Angelica Huston. The film tracks Victor (Rockwell), an unlovable loser saddled with sexual addiction and a penchant for confidence tricks. Charged with funding hospital care for his dementia-addled mother (a brilliant, nasty Huston), Victor falls for a beautiful, deranged nurse (Macdonald, expanding on her American entree in No Country For Old Men). Their eventual blackly comic romance mirrors his tremendously dysfunctional relationship with his career criminal mother.

For all its surrealist tendencies - Victor may possibly be the in vitro son of Jesus Christ (something about a mummified foreskin...), but works as a colonial re-enactor with his compulsive masturbator best mate (Brad William Henke) - Choke is neither loopy nor difficult, but surprisingly grounded. That speaks to the steady hand of actor turned debut writer/director Clark Gregg , excellent support work from the likes of Gillian Jacobs (as Cherry Daiquiri, Henke's stripper girlfriend), and Rockwell's further emergence as a top-form leading man.

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