In Clark Gregg’s latest adaptation of a Chuck Palahniuk novel, Sam Rockwell (Assassination of Jesse James, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) plays sex-addict Victor Mancini, cursed with an obsession of picturing every woman he meets naked, a mentally ill mother and a theme park job as ‘the backbone of colonial America’. Victor spends his days, when he’s not having sex, jumping between purposefully choking on food in restaurants (in search of the pure love and connection felt between himself and his saviour once they have employed the Heimlich manoeuvre) and looking after his mother (Angela Huston). This is where it gets a little strange…or even stranger…
Interspersed with the main story line are memories of Victor and his mother living the life of fugitives, scamming foster mothers and breaking into zoos. Back in the present, Victor’s world is transformed when his mother’s initially uptight new doctor (Kelly Macdonald) decides that she may be able to cure her through an experimental stem cell method which can be implemented through the doctor and Victor… having sex. Victor’s main reason for complying (despite the obvious) is so that he can finally get the information on his origins from his mother.
What ensues is the shocking realisation that he can not ‘perform’ with somebody he may have actual feelings for…oh and that his mother spawned him from the foreskin of Jesus making him the half clone of the son of God…naturally.
The problem with all of the above is that it may work as a novel but it doesn’t really translate to film. The stacking up of such utterly farcical plotlines within the space of a couple hours of film produces a messy picture, and one that just simply goes too far into the ridiculous. Rockwell puts in a good performance amongst a mediocre cast and there are some particularly laugh out loud moments where you just have to adhere to the sheer balls of the comedy being employed (most particularly the ‘rape’ scene and the uses of anal beads).
Those expecting the latest Palahniuk adaptation to have the kind of generation defining impact of Fight Club must continue their search, but those in search of a funny-in-parts mish-mash of sex, madness and colonial costumes might enjoy Choke.