Clark Gregg is a brave man for taking on this tricky adaptation of a Chuck Palahniuk book for his
directorial debut, as it guarantees comparisons with the other Palahniuk adaptation to have reached our screens
so far, Fight Club. Such comparisons are a mite unfair, if unavoidable.
The novel itself touches on similar themes to
Palahniuk’s incendiary debut, once again charting a male protagonist’s disconnection from the modern
world – literally so in the case of Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell), who spends his days as an ‘historical
interpreter’ at a working medieval village. To pay for his mother’s expensive psychiatric care, Victor has
come up with a scam whereby he pretends to choke in restaurants, to be saved by an unsuspecting rube who
out of pity will put it upon themselves to support Victor, contributing cheques toward phantom dental surgery.
It’s when visiting his mother in hospital, whilst
trying to ascertain who his real father is, that Victor meets his mother’s doctor Paige Marshall (Macdonald),
who hits him with a bizarre revelation about who he might really be.
Unflinching from the graphic sexuality of the
novel – Victor cruises sex addiction groups and fetish websites, and suffers an unfortunate mishap with some
anal beads – Clark Gregg is to be commended for taking on the challenge of bringing Choke to the screen,
and braving those inevitable comparisons. His inexperience as a director shows at points – he’s guilty
of some sloppiness a perfectionist like David Fincher would never allow for. There are also some moments – in particular the flashbacks – which are clumsily
handled but Clark has drawn excellent performances from his perfectly-cast ensemble – Sam Rockwell once
again proves he has the charisma to make even the sleaziest character charming – and, whilst dialling
down Victor’s self-loathing and playing the story more as a straight comedy, the key themes and scenes from
the book are largely intact. It may not go down as a modern classic, but as Fight Club’s oversexed younger brother, it certainly holds its own.
For more information: หวยลาวสตาร์