Chuck Palahniuk’s work has not been adapted since David Fincher’s legendary Fight Club in 1999, so director Clark Gregg took a risk when he decided to undertake Palahniuk’s first bestseller, Choke, released by Fox Searchlight this year.
In Palahniuk’s Choke, Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell), a casual sex addict, spends his time earning money in unusual ways, including choking in restaurants and suing the managers, to support his dying mother (Anjelica Huston). Paige Marshall (Kelly MacDonald), a new doctor at his mother’s mental hospital, convinces Victor that his mother used cells from Jesus’ foreskin to conceive him: This traumatizes Victor because his philosophy is “What would Jesus not do?”
The movie ends explosively as tangled plotlines piece together to form a sudden, dawning comprehension-at that point, Victor accepts his love for Paige, realizing there is actually a human heart inside of him.
Rockwell plays Victor effortlessly, using subtle expressions to portray the character’s jaded acceptance of an unfulfilling life. Huston plays both a crazed cocaine addict in Victor’s flashbacks, and a befuddled patient with dementia. Huston performs the dramatic role strongly, persuading the audience of her utter insanity. The outstanding MacDonald presents her quirky character like a deer in headlights, making her perplexed absurdity quite charming as her character persistently tries to change Victor’s pessimistic outlook.
Choke is well-made and at times, extremely captivating. The film can be confusing for those who have not read the book, but this also has to do with the Palahniuk’s jumbled plotlines. Although Gregg had to edit the conjectural rants that plagued Victor’s mind in the book, he uses significant action and expression to compensate for what could not be said aloud.
Gregg and his incredible ensemble craft an entertaining, comedic satire, engaging viewers to become a part of Palahniuk’s demented, extraordinary world.