Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Choke Review

An underrated cast containing the likes of Sam Rockwell and Kelly McDonald. Radiohead on the soundtrack. Titties, preferably jiggling. Steak. A decent low budget production company like Fox Searchlight. Source material from someone with such satirical bile it makes you look incredulously at the entire human race. Clay Davis from The Wire. A sense of humour darker than Bill Hicks wearing all black in a room with the lights off. The kind of stupidly romantic ending that makes you think life might not be as painful as it appears. More jiggling titties. These are just some of the ingredients to make a perfect movie for me.

From the same fucked up mind that gave us Fight Club, Choke is author Chuck Palanhuiks second big screen outing. Sam Rockwell plays Victor Mancini a directionless sex addict who spends his days working at a colonial theme park and his nights 'choking' on food in restaurants looking for someone to save him. In doing so, he argues, he's giving these strangers a reason to live, which they then reward by sending him money whenever he needs it. This money is spent making sure his demented mother is alive long enough to tell him who his dad is. A question with more answers than Victor may have hoped for.

The main problem with Choke, as a film, is its faithfulness to the book, something that before I went in I was really hoping they would nail. Yet from the new romance with his mums doctor, to his sex addiction, to his choking scam, to beads up his arsehole, to collecting rocks and raping pensioners, every page is up on screen. Every subplot is present and correct but none are expanded on and each deserves more screentime. An entire movie could be made about who his father may or may not be, if only because it poses the greatest philosophical question seen at the cinemas in some time. What Would Jesus Not Do?

Fight Club was a very different beast fom Choke but it knew when and where to stray from the text and when it did stray it was a better film for it. So while Choke may have all the checklists for the best film of the year it doesn't quite live up to the ridiculous personal hype I'd bestowed on it. The fact that its still funny, intelligent and enjoyable from start to finish says a lot about the filmmakers involved. But these are the kind of filmmakers that could play out a joyously sentimental ending with Radiohead's Reckoner on the soundtrack. Of course I'm going to like these filmmakers.

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