Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Choke (Review)

Let me get this out of the way first. Choke is my favorite Chuck Palahniuk novel. There was no way a rookie actor-turn-director was gonna take the material and do anything interesting with it the way Fincher did with Fight Club. The best I was hoping for was that it would be a serviceable adaptation that got the source material right without leaving too much of the dark comedy on the floor. Surprisingly Clark Gregg (also playing Lord High Charlie) went slightly beyond not ruining the film in heightening the emotional tone between both Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) and his mother (Anjelica Houston) and his (main) love interest (Kelly Macdonald). All three actors are strong in their roles but none more-so than Rockwell who ability to suck you in with his loser charm is once again in top form. Despite the stronger emotional bonds though, some of the frenzied sexual absurdism is lost in the adaptation, giving the film a much flatter tone than the novel. However I find that this works in a way similar to Garden State while not getting overly somber or maddeningly cutsey as that one did (BTW this was also filmed in a certain national armpit). Gregg allows the humor and wry titillation to undercut his dramatic moments just enough that the film never loses its steady pace or Palahniuk's cynical world view and leaves enough of the novel intact that those looking for an insider moment or two will feel all warm inside.


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