Saturday, March 22, 2008

SXSW Review: Chuck Palahniuk's Choke

Chuck Palahniuk is definitely one creative and crazy writer. I haven't had the pleasure of reading any of his books, but a few of my friends have and they really enjoyed them. If you don't know who Palahniuk is, then perhaps you have heard of a movie called Fight Club. That's right, he also wrote that. Choke, his newest book turned into film, is set to be released sometime in August this year. I had the pleasure of seeing it at SXSW and walked out torn between the offensive content and extremely enjoyable and creative story.

Choke is the story of Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) who is a sex addict that works as an historical interpreter at a Colonial re-enactment town. His life is riddled with problems, all of which stem from the kind of man he is deep down. His mother (Anjelica Huston) is hospitalized in a mental facility and can't tell the difference between her lawyers and her own son. Besides being a sex addict, Mancini struggles with the need for affection which he fulfills by forcing food down his throat at restaurants. By doing this he knows that someone will save him and thus building a bond between the victim and savior. As his mother takes a turn for the worse he learns a secret that shakes him to his core.

What is so great about films like Choke and Fight Club are that they are immensely unique and creative stories. Palahniuk has an ending he wants you to get to, but the way in which he gets you there is fraught with twists and turns that make the whole journey enjoyable and something different then we normally experience in a film. As a writer I think he is great and would really like to check out some of his other books.

Don't be tricked into thinking that since you liked Fight Club, you will also like Choke. I'm talking about the films and not the books. The subject matter is totally different and bears no resemblance to the other. David Fincher was at the helm of Fight Club and his vision for that film was what made it so great. The story for Choke just doesn't lend itself to the stylistic approach that Fincher took. All that to say, decide whether or not you watch Choke based off of the story from Fight Club instead of the cinematic style.

All in all, Choke had my attention the entire film. It was funny and extremely cleaver. I loved how all his problems had a purpose and tied together at the end. The problem it will run into theatrically is the many sex scenes and nudity it shows. It all makes sense given the face that he is a sex addict, but the length and graphic nature of some of the scenes might lend itself to losing the interest of a huge portion of film goers. Choke will do well with Palahniuk fans, avid film watchers and those who see it knowing only that it was written by the same guy who wrote Fight Club. Not one I would rush out to see but I expect it will do really well on DVD.



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