Victor Mancini is screwed up!
He's a hopeless sex addict who can't stop boinking women in his support group.
His best friend and sponsor is a chronic masturbator.
He half-asses his way through a low-level job at a colonial theme park
His mother, suffering from Alzheimer's, is in a nursing home he can't afford and can't remember who he is.
He's obsessed with task of trying to seduce his mother's new doctor, who's quite religious and chaste…
Hmmn, let's see…what else?
…Oh, right! He might also be the half clone of Jesus Christ
As far as the title 'CHOKE'
goes (based on Chuck Palahniuk's
novel of the same name) it based on Victor's extracurricular activities as a con man, purposely causing himself to choke mid-way through meals at fancy restaurants to lure "good Samaritans" into saving his life. It makes them feel like heroes and in keeping the old Chinese proverb, they feel forever responsible for the life they've saved. They continually send him cards and letters asking him about how he's doing and even money to help him with the bills.
Okay, so Victor is a bit of a douche
. It would be hard to imagine following this character for 90 minutes if not for Sam Rockwell
, who plays victor as more of a surprisingly sympathetic anti-hero. Actually, it’s the glimpses into Victor’s childhood that make it not so easy to be judgmental towards him. Through flashbacks we see how he grew up going from one foster home to another because his demented mother (Anjelica Huston
, outdoing herself as John Cusack’s
evil mother in The Grifters
) was found to be unfit to raise Victor. Several times throughout his childhood his mother would kidnap him from his various foster parents, only to eventually be caught and he would again be remanded over to the government child welfare agency.
is a deviant piece of work with plenty of the kinds of plot twists and turns (ex: once “Dr. Paige Marshall”-Kelly MacDonald
- agrees to sleep with Victor for the purpose of having a child and using the stem cells to save his mother, he can no longer get an erection) that I used to look forward to in independent films. If I’d walked into to see Choke
ten years ago without any prior knowledge of its history I know I’d consider placing it in my list of all-time favorites.
But Choke’s history is pretty hard to ignore. It will forever be in the shadow of its ‘older brother’, Fight Club
Even though Fight Club
debuted at #1 it was still considered a disappointment. But much like Mike Judge’s ‘Office Space',
it grew to legendary status post- opening weekend and became part of the American lexicon. Choke
, Chuck Palahniuk’s fourth novel, was his first to get on the NY Times bestsellers list, but that was mostly because of the pre-fame that Fight Club had already built.
carried plenty of Fight Club’s elements over to Choke- the depravity, a disconnected hero, using support groups as a plot device and a big, unforeseen twist near the end- but the big things that Choke
the movie doesn’t have is the star power of Brad Pitt
or Edward Norton
nor, importantly, a genius director like David Fincher
If you recognize Clark Gregg
at all it’s probably as Julia Louis-Dreyfus
’ ex-husband on “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
or the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that shows up in the third act of Iron Man
is Clark Gregg’s directorial debut
, and as first times go…not bad. I’ll give him props for having the balls to follow Fincher (basically) and on a movie that several said was “unfilmable”
. Still, his reach does exceed his grasp and by the end there does seem to be a few too many loose ends and a conclusion that doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of the film.
Overall, I enjoyed the ride for what it was and like any good adaptation, it made me want to read the book.
…though I have it on good authority from fans of the book that I might hate the movie if I did read the book.
This DVD is not without the usual stable of featurettes:
• My Name is Victor and I’m a Sex Addict
• A Mother’s Love, From the Los Angeles Film Festival
• Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session
• Audio commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Clark Gregg and Actor Sam Rockwell
• 5 deleted scenes with optional audio commentary with Clark Gregg and Sam Rockwell
• Gag reel.
Most of these feel like there editing from a day of conversations with cast and crew then divided up among the segments or shot during the film’s premier. Midly interesting. The one that was the most informative was “A conversation with Clark Gregg
and Chuck Palahniuk
”. It get to see just how much in love Clark Gregg is with the novel ‘Choke’ and what a gushing fanboy he is of Chuck Palahniuk. He comes across as very genuine and …sweet going over his struggles to reshape the story into “ his own”, with Palahniuk’s permission, of course. Palahniuk
keeps his cards close to his vest, but you can read between the lines that he wasn’t thrilled with all the changes Gregg made. Perhaps among them writing a bigger part for himself by expanding the character of ‘The Lord High Charlie'
on DVD can be purchased here
*DVD REVIEW EXTRA*
Exclusive to Spill
to check out Korey's interview with co-star Brad William Henke