dir-scr Clark Gregg
with Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke, Jonah Bobo, Clark Gregg, Bijou Phillips, Gillian Jacobs, Paz de la Huerta, Heather Burns, Matt Molloy, Joel Grey
release US 26.Sep.08, UK 21.Nov.08
08/US Fox 1h32
Brothers in arms: Henke and Rockwell

huston macdonald gregg
Acting award
(for the ensemble):
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Choke Based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel, this film takes a lively and often hilarious approach to some rather serious issues about personal identity and relationships. Not to mention sex addiction.

Victor (Rockwell) had to get inventive to pay for a private hospital room for his maverick, senile mother (Huston). After his day job as a cast member recreating a colonial New England village, he tops up his income by pretending to choke on food in restaurants, earning the loyalty of his carefully chosen "lifesavers". He also attends a sex-addict recovery group with his pal Denny (Henke). But when he makes a move on his mother's cute new doctor (Macdonald), he gets more than a few surprises.

This is one of those madcap black comedies about how dysfunction makes us human--think Running With Scissors, but through a more focussed perspective. We see the events through Victor's eyes, including flashbacks to various adventures as a child (Bobo) with his colourful mother, who clearly taught him everything he knows. And even though it's all over the place tonally, the script is sharp and smart, full of hysterically funny sequences and also a few rather lovely emotional elements.

As with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Rockwell dives headlong into this energetically offbeat role. Victor is a guy who knows too much about everything, wants to sleep with everyone and can't tell the truth to save his life. But he also has a hugely compassionate streak and a deep need to know who his father is. In essence, this is a guy who wants to feel something, but can't. Around him, the entire supporting cast is superb, with standout performances from Huston and writer-director Gregg (as Victor's workplace nemesis).

Yes, the film is wilfully odd, but it's also wonderfully entertaining and a true original. Even when it gets thoughtful or emotional, it's still resolutely quirky. But underneath the nutty surface, all kinds of interesting things are going on. And while we're laughing, we're thinking as well, looking at ourselves and how the way people perceive us has shaped us into who we are. And we understand the truth that where we go isn't nearly as important as the fact that we must keep moving.

cert 18 strong themes, language, sexuality, drugs 9.Sep.08

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Choke alex, glasgow: 1/5 "bad, bad film. I am amazed they wasted their time to produce something like this." (23.Nov.08)
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall