A review of “Choke” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for graphic language, nudity and sexuality

Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes



Sam Rockwell proves again (and again and again) that he’s a talent to be reckoned with.

What’s not to love about a twisted, sex-addicted historical interpreter (i.e. tour guide) with relentless wit and a big old damaged heart? That’s Victor Mancini (Rockwell), who spreads himself razor thin between gigs at the colonial theme park, weekly addiction workshops and tending to his delusional, sociopathic mother Ida (Anjelica Houston).

Victor’s motivations may be skewed – banging mom’s doc (Kelly MacDonald) to keep her in his corner and keeping mom alive to establish the identity of his real dad – but he’s nothing if not resourceful.

Victor’s trying, really trying, to kick that nasty nookie crave; struggling through a pre-established 12-Step program and hung up somewhere around Step Three because of sticky issues with intimacy and trust. He flogs himself for faux-choking in public to garner sympathy from Good Samaritans but its one day and one step at a time.

Raunchy sex and nudity accompany a witty, pattering voice over that utilizes dialogue from Chuck Palahniuk’s controversial novel of the same name. As Victor relentlessly endeavors to “reclaim my booth at the café of diminished expectations” he continues to seek approval a la the high-speed chase. Whoa partner.

Actor/director Clark Gregg gives “Choke” an indie slant far less splashy than David Fincher’s adaptation of Palahniuk’s “Fight Club”, establishing Victor as the ultimate anti-hero whose confrontation with reality is just this side of loco.

When it’s all said and done in actor/director Clark Gregg’s inimitable style – dark, smart and quirky – Victor emerges a weirdly benevolent protagonist you won’t soon forget.