Monday, September 29, 2008


Tonight I saw Choke, starring Sam Rockwell and Angelica Houston.

Victor Mancini (Rockwell) is a seemingly incurable sex addict who makes a living as a "historical interpreter" (a.k.a. colonial theme park tour guide) in between meaningless sexual encounters and frequent visits with his mother Ida (Houston), who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's or both.

The film is billed as a comedy, though "tragic comedy" would be more accurate. Rockwell's disheveled appearance and quirky speech patterns have him resembling a thirtysomething rendition of Dana Carvey, which is distracting when we're supposed to loathe him or simply feel enormous pity for him.

The film isn't primarily about sex (darn); it's more about a man whose life resembles a jigsaw puzzle of mystery that we're led to believe is exciting, but unfolds only to reveal more darkness.

We find sadness in Victor's orphan past, sadness in his dead-end present, sadness in his bleak future—and I haven't even mentioned the girl he's fallen for.

Despite all of that, I can't say I was bored, or that the acting was bad, because really it was quite good. But so much of the main character's numbness (and so many scenes from which the film draws its title) was hard to witness, I can't say I enjoyed it either.

There were some very funny situations and clever twists, but for me that wasn't enough of a payoff for the depressing mood it left me in.

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