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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Choke (review)

Ya wants originality at The Movies, here ya go. Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Generation X’s court jester — and quite an auspicious debut, as screenwriter and director, from actor Clark Gregg (Iron Man), who also appears here in a small role — this is a movie about sex addiction, con games, the impossibility of unconditional love, and the laughable fantasy of romance… and so of course it ends up being quite sweet and moving and full of cynicism that really just wants for a hug, pretty please. Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) — another wise Gen X fool — is a dude coping with a dead-end job, a mother with dementia (Anjelica Huston: Martian Child), and not much to look forward to. So he fakes out unsuspecting restaurant diners by pretending to choke on his food — thus allowing them the warm and cuddly feeling one gets when one saves another’s life — and can’t quite get over the chemical high that comes from anonymous orgasms with total strangers. You know: just like the rest of us. Seriously, though: the combination of wicked, blasphemous humor and secretly tender, aching longing for something to believe in will be instantly recognizable to far too many folks in their 30s and 40s… as will, I suspect, the idea that dysfunction is the only reasonable approach to a crazy world.


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MPAA: rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer

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