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Sundance: Quint gives the Heimlich to the Chuck Palahniuk adaptation CHOKE, starring Sam Rockwell!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Up front I have to confess that I’ve never read any of Chuck Palahnuik’s books. I actually have bought a few and have them at home (CHOKE and SURVIVOR… and I will put in order in for HAUNTED soon). So I can’t review this movie from the perspective of someone familiar with Palahnuik’s written work; this story in particular (Rav is a little more in the know and will have his own review shortly, I’m sure), but I can say that I really flipped for this movie. Why isn’t Sam Rockwell the biggest name in Hollywood? Last year he blew me away with his fantastic performance in SNOW ANGELS (soon to be released). He’s always consistent and goddamn he’s funny. In Choke he plays a sex-addict whose 9-5 is being a historical reenacter. His other job is to purposefully choke in restaurants and latch onto his rescuer, often receiving cards and money every month as they soon feel responsible for him. Oh, and he may or may not be Jesus Christ’s half-clone and/or son. While visiting his demented mother (played wonderfully by Anjelica Huston) in a specialized Catholic hospital he meets a beautiful doctor by the name of Paige Marshall, played by the Scottish hottie Kelly Macdonald. This woman throws Rockwell’s life into a spiral. He fucks practically anything that moves, but suddenly he can’t perform with her. He’s numbed himself to the point where unattached emotionless sex is all he can do. When he starts having real feelings for this girl his world is turned upsidedown. This movie is crazy and about as hard R as you can get. One of the critics afterwards described it as a light dark comedy, meaning it doesn’t go into any real dark dramatic places, but it has some really cynical humor. Macdonald is good in the film, but I think her American accent handicaps her a bit, some of her dialogue sounding stilted and performed. If she had been able to keep her Scottish accent (her heart-stopping Scottish accent, I might add) I think that would have benefited the character a little. But everybody is good in the film and most of them go beyond just good. Brad William Henke plays Rockwell’s best friend, a chronic masturbator determined to keep his hands off his junk and break his habit. Henke is a giant of a dude, but a big teddy bear. He basically acts as Rockwell’s moral center, his own Jiminy Cricket. This is actor Clark Gregg’s directorial debut and he does a fine job of it. I’ve seen a lot of first or second-time features at the fest so far and his is the most accomplished of the batch I’ve seen. His style is loose, but smart. He plays with narration and freeze-frames, but doesn’t get decadent with them. Gregg’s also really funny in the small role he has as the dickish boss at the Historical reenactment, always docking Rockwell’s pay whenever any modern item is on his person. The dude refuses to speak in anything but Old English and is the butt of many jokes. Anyway, I can’t speak to how well it is adapted, but without knowing anything about the story before seeing the film, I can say that it stood out from the pack for me. I had a blast with it and I can’t wait to see it again. I scored a four on one interview with Huston, Gregg, Rockwell and Palahniuk. I’m a little behind on posting my interviews, but hopefully I’ll get that one out by this weekend. Keep an eye peeled for it! -Quint

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