• 2009-05-21
  • By Kate McIntosh

ANTI-HERO: Choke features a protagonist who spends all his time deceiving people and chasing women.

Director: Clark Gregg

"Choke" is a satirical and at times crass exploration of the search for identity and meaningful connections.
The screenplay is adapted from a novel of the same name by author Chuck Palahniuk of "Fight Club" fame.
Sam Rockwell plays Victor Mancini, a sex-addicted con-artist that works at a Colonial-era theme park.

Victor also attends a weekly Sex Addicts meeting, but only to pick up women for kinky sex.
The film takes its name from a stunt Victor pulls at up-scale restaurants where he pretends to choke on his food so that strangers will come to his rescue and ultimately bond with him emotionally and financially.
Many of these so-called "saviors" stay in touch with Victor and send money to him throughout the year as a way to assuage their own regret about life and as a sort of token gesture of their supposedly heroic deed.

The money from this scam allows Vincent to keep his mother Ida (Anjelica Huston), who suffers from Alzheimer's, at an expensive mental hospital.
Ida's condition is rapidly deteriorating and she no longer recognizes her son.
Following one of her self-delusional rants Victor becomes convinced that he was actually cloned from tissue taken from the foreskin of a holy relic and thus might actually be the Son of God.
At the same time Victor falls for Dr. Paige Marshall (Kelly McDonald), one of the doctors taking care of his mother at the hospital.

Subsequently Victor's own life starts to unravel as their relationship leads him to question his own moral values.
It's at this point that the film increasingly strays into the ridiculous.
"Choke" isn't all bad. It is an entertaining enough film and has some wickedly subversive takes on American self-help culture, religion and sex, that may leave the more conservative viewer squirming in their seat.

One of the rare laugh-out-loud moments comes when Victor hooks up with a woman who enlists him to act out her bizarrely detailed rape fantasy.
The inimitable Huston gives a stand out performance as Vincent's slightly unhinged mother.
The main problem, however, is that Rockwell's Victor is a completely unlikable character, who preys on the vulnerability and good will of others for his own benefit.

His twin aims in life are to fleece money from people and get women to sleep with him.
Victor's unrepentant cruelty makes most of the comedic moments fall flat.
Some may also find the film's non-censored sex, nudity and bad language a turn off.
Ultimately, it's hard to be engaged by this film, which in the end comes off as more crude than funny and more absurd than insightful.

Now showing in Estonia


Please enter your username and password.