Monday, October 6, 2008

A Frank Review of "Choke" (2008)

The Short Version? Sex addict with mommy issues does fucked up shit, based on the book by that "Fight Club" dude.
What Is It? Dark Comedy
Who's In It? Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston
Should I See It? Yes.

I saw two pictures this weekend with a rambling semblance of a plot buoyed by strong lead performances. "Choke" was the better of the two, mostly due to the fantastic Sam Rockwell, who seems like he could have coasted through the running time on sleazy charm alone. Thankfully, he doesn't have to. His character, Victor Mancini, is a loser lovable despite the longest of odds. For starters, when I say lovable, it could understandably be taken in the most carnal of senses. He's a sex addict with a respectable batting average, scoring the spectrum from doctors to halfway house skanks. His best friend is an easygoing chronic masterbator, and his mother is literally demented. To pay for a decent nursing home, Victor works as a Colonial American reenactor, with a contemptuous disregard for period authenticity. Victor's also loved by unsuspecting patrons at restaurants, for whom he chokes himself on food to facilitate a heightened sense of personal fulfillment and a quick buck. Victor's a shit, but as childhood flashbacks reveal throughout the film, he's aces for not sodomizing corpses, or other outright criminal deviancy. Rockwell is supported well by Anjelica Huston, Brad William Henke, Gillian Jacobs, sweetheart Kelly Macdonald, and director/screenwriter Clark Gregg.

"Choke" is one of those oddities, like Bob Goldthwait's "Sleeping Dogs Lie," that has an undeniable heart of gold... just covered in piss and vomit. Sure there's references to bestiality, incest and the foreskin of Christ; with depictions of overweight elderly nudity, fantasy rape, prostate stimulation and more; but it's all done with the lightest of hearts. Perhaps I'm just desensitized, or maybe as my friends noted my own life has mirrored Victor's more closely than anyone's should, but I can't really see cause for offense, hard "R" notwithstanding.

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