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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Choke: Review

Choke is one of the dirtiest films I've seen in a long time, but it also has a great big heart. It would be unfair to dismiss the movie as an exploitive sex show, because it doesn't merely feature sex in the background. Sex is actually a supporting character in the piece.

In Choke, the gifted Sam Rockwell plays Victor, a sex addict who also gets his rocks off by going to various restaurants and intentionally choking on food. Why would he commit such a seemingly nonsensical act? In hope that he might bond with any of the patrons who come to his rescue.

Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Choke has many layers. It's much more than a tawdry sex show. This is a complex exploration into one man's sick affliction and while a good portion of the picture is played for laughs, the film doesn't shy away from going into some pretty heavy directions.

Rockwell is terrific here. Like Nicolas Cage, he has the uncanny ability to bring quirky characters to life. Equally effective is Kelly Macdonald –last seen as Llewelyn's main squeeze in No Country For Old Men – as the twinkle in Victor's eye. The two prove to have picture perfect chemistry, and it's fun seeing Victor's behavior in her presence. Why Rockwell isn't an A-list star is beyond me. He's the real deal.

Actor Clark Gregg--who you may recognize from TVs The New Adventures of Old Christine-- makes an auspicious directorial debut with material many thought un-filmable.

Choke is both raunchy and narcissistic, but it's also well acted, intelligent, and surprisingly dramatic. Certainly this isn't a movie for everyone, but for me, it hit all the right notes.

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