Monday, 3 November 2008

Choke: Movie Review

Choke: Movie Review

Rating 7/10
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly MacDonald, Brad William Henke
Director : Clark Gregg

A film about a sex-addicted con man is never going to be an easy sell.
But if you were to dismiss Choke simply for that fact, you'd probably be doing it a disservice.
It's an adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk book (he's the writer who was behind the Brad Pitt/ Edward Norton "Fight Club")
Sam Rockwell puts in a brilliant turn as anti-hero Victor Mancini; the first time we meet Mancini, he's engaging in a little "extra-curricular activity" while supposedly attending a sex addiction class.
Mancini spends his day working in a colonial theme park, doing his best to avoid the ire of those in charge by his occasional insistence in bringing the 21st century into work.
By night though, he's out at the nursing home, caring for his elderly mother Ida (Anjelica Huston) who's suffering from Alzheimer's.
However, he scams the money he needs from hospital bills by pretending to choke in restaurants and getting the cash from those who prevent him dying.
The film pivots on the relationship between Huston's Ida and Rockwell's Mancini - she barely remembers him and he's trying to recover details about his past - including his parentage - before his mother loses her fight.
Through flashbacks, we see the pair's younger relationship and the scams his mum helps him pull; we learn why Mancini is how he is - but not necessarily who he is.
Rockwell gives another stirling performance - he manages to turn what on paper would be a distinctly unlikeable character into one which elicits our sympathy.
This role once again really shows why he's one of the (vastly under-rated) character actors of this generation; his best friend and colonial co-worker Denny (played by Brad William Henke) also throws in a good performance; and Kelly MacDonald (who plays Ida's nurse) is also engaging.
It's fair to say Choke is probably going to be an acquired taste for some - it's occasionally bawdy, lewd and at times endearing and touching - but it's definitely not a film for all the family.
However, it has enough of an odd-beat flavour to it that if you're looking for something off the beaten cinematic track, you will be leaving the cinema feeling contented.

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