This is a terrific adaptation of Palahniuk's novel of the same name, I was actually a little surprised by how many of the vivid details this film kept.
Yeh, it was pretty funny, but it didn't have the same tone as the book and the message was lost in the film adaptation. I did have a few good laughs though!
I should have expected this from any adaptation of a Chuck Palahniuk text even though I have once again not read the source material that it is based on, but Choke is quite a difficult film to swallow if you'll pardon the pun. As a story about someone who makes himself choke on food in restaurants to earn sympathy money from other customers that pay for his mother's Alzheimer's disease bills while trying to cope with sex addiction, it is easy for Choke to find itself walking a scattered path. With Clark Gregg making his feature length debut as a writer and director, it is clear he is not yet up to the challenge of keeping a sensible structure. He didn't necessarily make a bad film and he did manage to make the most out of a minuscule budget which is certainly impressive, it's just that he failed to render a sense of consistency in the experience.
The genuine tone of Choke feels rather strange. The film has a narrative which takes itself very seriously, but at the same time it has a common tendency to break away from it for the sake of strange subplots or brief bursts of humour. It's a film said to be a black comedy, but it retains a lot of zany dramatic elements that keep on coming out of nowhere and adding twists into the story. Thinking back to Fight Club, I remember this worked in the film adaptation due to it giving the film a surreal and gritty edge. Since Choke is far more tame with its subject matter, it lacks the same punch.
Choke has a story which goes all over the place, and you'd think that it is some kind of drug. It's ambiguous which direction the story is actually going in Choke because there are so many different story points which don't seem to really progress anywhere, and it just leaves things puzzling when viewers have to figure out where the focus lies. I'll admit that some of the plot points were interesting and the genuine mood of the film was interesting because I could feel some real drama stemming from the film while the touch of comedy made it more enjoyable to watch, but it put a tonal inconsistency into the film. Reflecting on my experience of watching Choke, I find that I enjoyed the film for its cast and many of its scenes while as a whole there was no real sense of progression in the narrative which left me unsatisfied. And at the same time, the fact that the plot structure keeps cutting between past and present makes things all the more complicated. Frankly, Choke is hardly a film with a singular narrative as its structure unfolds like a series of loosely connected vignettes with no real end in sight to just how much will fill the narrative. As much as some of them are enjoyable due to the edgy nature of the subject matter and the light comic touch, they do not tie together all that well and so ultimately, Choke succeeds simply on the basis of being a sporadically entertaining film at best.
However, there is no inconsistencies in the talents of the cast.
Sam Rockwell's leading performance really carries the story. While the scattered narrative focus drags him in all different directions, Sam Rockwell manages to keep up with the changing mode of the film with a restrained sense of emotional instability. During the more settled moments of the film he has a casual nature about him, but you can tell that there are more complex insecurities and psychological damage within him. As the story progresses and the dramatic dynamics build, Sam Rockwell develops his character well. Considering the complications of the role, Sam Rockwell's approach to the character Victor Mancini is ideal as it is very restrained and therefore he carries a consistent level of emotional involvement over all the wacky material which ties him into the narrative better than it holds itself together. He is a strange character, but he is a sympathetic one thanks to Sam Rockwell's natural charm. He never loses sight of the character because as well as carrying consistent involvement, there is little change in his facial expressions which signifies a sense of distance from getting deeply involved with the other characters or subject matter, and the slight tweaks he makes during the more dramatic moments of the film say a lot with so little. Sam Rockwell leads Choke with spirited natural charisma, and his performance proves the finest asset of the film.
Anjelica Huston also does a wonderful job. Capturing an odd character who is plagued all the more by a strange senility, Anjelica Huston easily separates the mind of her character from the world around her and speaks in a manner which is focused on capturing the essence of true confusion. It is effective, making her a fascinating presence and a sympathetic one too. Her approach is gentle and yet lost in mental instability, easily conveying the nature of Ida Mancini's Alzheimer's disease. Her chemistry with Sam Rockwell is also wonderful due to the complicated relationship they share. Anjelica Huston is a serious asset to Choke.
Kelly Macdonald also manages to deliver a likable character and solid dramatic effort, and the presence of Clark Gregg and Gilian Jacobs in supporting roles is also grand. The cameo appearance from Joel Grey is also a wonderful touch.
So Choke has the best intentions and a talented leading performance from Sam Rockwell, but the narrative beneath him is not tied together well enough for the story to successfully develop anywhere or make any kind of effective statement along the way.
Victor has mommy issues and is a sex addict. The problems are likely tied together. He randomly visits his mother in the hospital, who happens to be dying and suffering from dementia, and also attends sex therapy. He hopes to work with his mom to uncover who his father is before she passes away. He a;so begins falling in love with one of his mom's doctors in the process. Can he finally settle down and find happiness?
"I think I liked you better when you were jerking off all of the time."
Clarke Gregg, director of Trust me, delivers Choke in his directorial debut. The storyline for this film is very interesting and fairly unique. I thought the film was well paced and concludes well. The acting was also very solid and the cast includes Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke, and Clarke Gregg.
"It's not what you're thinking!"
"Isn't that your penis in her hand?"
I came across this film on HBOGO and had to finally get around to seeing it. I thought this looked good when the previews first came out. The evolution of the main character and the realistic ending worked fpr me. The inmate/doctor story was a bit unrealistic, but overall, this is definitely worth a viewing.