Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Choke (film)

Choke (film)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Choke (film)'
Start a new discussion about 'Choke (film)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Choke is a 2008 American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 black comedy
Black comedy
A black comedy, or dark comedy, is a comic work that employs black humor or gallows humor. The definition of black humor is problematic; it has been argued that it corresponds to the earlier concept of gallows humor; and that, as humor has been defined since Freud as a comedic act that anesthetizes...

 film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 directed by Clark Gregg
Clark Gregg
Robert Clark Gregg is an American actor, screenwriter and director. He co-starred as Christine Campbell's ex-husband Richard in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, which debuted in March 2006 and concluded in May 2010...

. The film stars Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell is an American actor known for his leading roles in Lawn Dogs, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Choke and Moon, as well as for his supporting roles in The Green Mile, Iron Man 2, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Frost/Nixon, Galaxy Quest, Matchstick Men, The Assassination of...

 and Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Huston is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985's Prizzi's Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in...

. Production took place in New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 in 2007. It premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival
2008 Sundance Film Festival
The 2008 Sundance Film Festival ran from January 17, 2008 to January 27 in Park City, Utah. It was the 24th iteration of the Sundance Film Festival. The opening night film was In Bruges and the closing night film was CSNY Déjà Vu.-Films:...

 and was purchased by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures, established in 1998, is a film division of Fox Filmed Entertainment alongside the larger Fox studio 20th Century Fox...

 for distribution. The film was released on September 26, 2008 and the DVD was released on February 17, 2009.

The film is based on the 2001 novel of the same name
Choke (novel)
-Plot summary:Choke follows Victor Mancini and his friend Denny through a few months of their lives with frequent flashbacks to the days when Victor was a child. He had grown up moving from one foster home to another, as his mother was found to be unfit to raise him...

 by Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk
Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk is an American transgressional fiction novelist and freelance journalist. He is best known for the award-winning novel Fight Club, which was later made into a film directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter...

. It tells the story of a man who works in a colonial theme park, attends sexual addiction recovery meetings, and intentionally chokes on food in upscale restaurants so his "rescuers" would give him money out of sympathy and thus cover his mother's Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

 hospital bills.

Plot


Victor Mancini (Rockwell
Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell is an American actor known for his leading roles in Lawn Dogs, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Choke and Moon, as well as for his supporting roles in The Green Mile, Iron Man 2, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Frost/Nixon, Galaxy Quest, Matchstick Men, The Assassination of...

) is a sex addict
Sexual addiction
Sexual addiction is a popular model to explain hypersexuality—sexual urges, behaviors, or thoughts that appear extreme in frequency or feel out of one's control...

 who works as a reenactor
Historical reenactment
Historical reenactment is an educational activity in which participants attempt torecreate some aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, such as the reenactment of Pickett's Charge at the Great Reunion of 1913, or as broad as an entire...

 of life in Colonial America. He works with his best friend, Denny (Brad William Henke
Brad William Henke
Brad William Henke is an American actor.-Biography:Henke was born in Columbus, Nebraska. He starred in October Road and in the movies Around June with Samaire Armstrong and Jon Gries, The Amateurs with Jeff Bridges and Tim Blake Nelson, In the Valley of Elah with Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize...

), who is also a reformed sex addict. To support his hospitalized mother (Huston
Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Huston is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985's Prizzi's Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in...

), Victor cons others by intentionally choking at restaurants to get money from his rescuers.

When he visits his mother one day, he meets Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald
Kelly Macdonald
Kelly Macdonald is a Scottish actress, known for her role in the independent film Trainspotting and mainstream releases such as Nanny McPhee, Gosford Park, Intermission, No Country for Old Men and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2...

), who takes care of her. She tells Victor that his mother's condition is worsening and that they could try an experimental stem cell technique that would require harvesting cells from the umbilical cord
Umbilical cord
In placental mammals, the umbilical cord is the connecting cord from the developing embryo or fetus to the placenta...

 of a newborn baby with Victor's genes. She convinces Victor to have sex with her so she can have his child and save his mother.

Victor never knew his father and is anxious to obtain the information from his mother, but she never recognizes him when he visits. He asks Denny to pose as him and ask her questions. Denny agrees and reveals that Victor's mother kept a diary. Victor finds it, but it is in Italian. Paige tells Victor she can read Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 and agrees to translate the diary.

Victor and Paige try several times to have sex, but Victor cannot maintain an erection. After discussing it with Denny, he realizes he loves Paige. She then reveals to him that his mother may have fled Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 because she stole Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

' foreskin, and used its cells to conceive Victor, making him the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

. He is reluctant to believe but, in the end, accepts Paige's assertion. However, his mother finally recognizes him and tells him that she stole him as a baby and she has no idea who his real parents are. As she tells him this, he feeds her chocolate pudding
Chocolate pudding
Chocolate pudding is a class of dessert with chocolate flavors. There are two main types: a boiled then chilled, texturally a custard set with starch, version commonly eaten in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, and East and South East Asia; and a steamed/baked, texturally similar to cake, version that is...

 and accidentally chokes her to death.

While Paige tries to resuscitate Victor's mother, a hidden band around her wrist falls into Victor's view, revealing that she is actually a patient in the hospital--not a doctor. Paige then reveals that she was admitted to the hospital years ago, in a catatonic
Catatonia
Catatonia is a state of neurogenic motor immobility, and behavioral abnormality manifested by stupor. It was first described in 1874: Die Katatonie oder das Spannungsirresein ....

 state, and fell in love with Victor through the stories his mother told her about him. As she was a former medical student, the nurses allowed her to wear a white coat, as it calmed her down. Paige, a voluntary patient, checks herself out without saying goodbye to Victor.

After his mother's funeral, Victor boards a plane. He goes to the bathroom and the door opens to reveal Paige joining him.

Cast

  • Sam Rockwell
    Sam Rockwell
    Sam Rockwell is an American actor known for his leading roles in Lawn Dogs, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Choke and Moon, as well as for his supporting roles in The Green Mile, Iron Man 2, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Frost/Nixon, Galaxy Quest, Matchstick Men, The Assassination of...

     as Victor Mancini, a sex addict who cons people in order to fund the care of his hospitalized mother.
  • Jonah Bobo
    Jonah Bobo
    -Life and career:Bobo was born in Roosevelt Island, New York. His mother, Denise Raimi, is a physical therapist and personal trainer , and his father, Scot, works in software. He has a younger sister named Georgia. His great-grandmother was Tampa businesswoman and philanthropist Salha "Mama" Bobo...

     as Young Victor Mancini
  • Anjelica Huston
    Anjelica Huston
    Anjelica Huston is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985's Prizzi's Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in...

     as Ida Mancini, Victor's mother.
  • Kelly Macdonald
    Kelly Macdonald
    Kelly Macdonald is a Scottish actress, known for her role in the independent film Trainspotting and mainstream releases such as Nanny McPhee, Gosford Park, Intermission, No Country for Old Men and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2...

     as Paige Marshall.
  • Brad William Henke
    Brad William Henke
    Brad William Henke is an American actor.-Biography:Henke was born in Columbus, Nebraska. He starred in October Road and in the movies Around June with Samaire Armstrong and Jon Gries, The Amateurs with Jeff Bridges and Tim Blake Nelson, In the Valley of Elah with Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize...

     as Denny, Victor's best friend, a reformed sex addict. He is thrown out of his parents' house and becomes Victor's roommate.
  • Paz de la Huerta
    Paz de la Huerta
    María de la Paz Elizabeth Sofía Adriana de la Huerta , better known by her professional name Paz de la Huerta, is an American actress and model...

     as Nico
  • Gillian Jacobs
    Gillian Jacobs
    Gillian Jacobs is an American film, theatre and television actress, best known for her role as Britta Perry on the NBC comedy series Community.-Personal life:...

     as Cherry Daiquiri / Beth, a stripper who falls for Denny.
  • Clark Gregg
    Clark Gregg
    Robert Clark Gregg is an American actor, screenwriter and director. He co-starred as Christine Campbell's ex-husband Richard in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, which debuted in March 2006 and concluded in May 2010...

     as Lord High Charlie.
  • Bijou Phillips
    Bijou Phillips
    Bijou Lilly Phillips is an American actress, model, and singer. Phillips began her career as a model but soon transitioned herself into acting and singing. When she was 13, she started as a model and became one of the youngest people to grace the cover of Interview Magazine and Italian Vogue....

     as Ursula the Milk Maid.
  • Joel Grey
    Joel Grey
    Joel Grey is an American stage and screen actor, singer, and dancer, best known for his role as the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film adaptation of the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret. He has won the Academy Award, Tony Award and Golden Globe Award...

     as Phil, a member of Victor's sex addiction therapy group
    Group psychotherapy
    Group psychotherapy or group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists treat a small group of clients together as a group...

    . Grey is Clark Gregg's father-in-law.


Writer Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk
Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk is an American transgressional fiction novelist and freelance journalist. He is best known for the award-winning novel Fight Club, which was later made into a film directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter...

 makes a cameo appearance. He can be seen in the same row as Sam Rockwell on the plane just before the film ends.

Writing


In April 2001, following the video and DVD success of the film adaptation
Fight Club (film)
Fight Club is a 1999 American film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton plays the unnamed protagonist, an "everyman" who is discontented with his white-collar job...

 of Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk
Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk is an American transgressional fiction novelist and freelance journalist. He is best known for the award-winning novel Fight Club, which was later made into a film directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter...

's book Fight Club
Fight Club (novel)
Fight Club is a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It follows the experiences of an unnamed protagonist struggling with insomnia. Inspired by his doctor's exasperated remark that insomnia is not suffering, he finds relief by impersonating a seriously ill person in several support groups...

, the author sold feature film rights to his then-unpublished book Choke
Choke (novel)
-Plot summary:Choke follows Victor Mancini and his friend Denny through a few months of their lives with frequent flashbacks to the days when Victor was a child. He had grown up moving from one foster home to another, as his mother was found to be unfit to raise him...

 to Bandeira Entertainment under producer Beau Flynn. Flynn optioned Choke on the request of actor Clark Gregg
Clark Gregg
Robert Clark Gregg is an American actor, screenwriter and director. He co-starred as Christine Campbell's ex-husband Richard in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, which debuted in March 2006 and concluded in May 2010...

, who had received the book as a writing assignment and became fascinated with Chokes unflinching way of dealing with "the difficult topics of childhood trauma and sexual compulsion in a way that was both painful and hysterically funny". Gregg worked on the book for five years, trying to adapt it faithfully. He decided to write his personal version of the story, believing that it would be one that Chuck Palahniuk would oppose. To Gregg's surprise, the author liked and supported the departures made in Gregg's version. Gregg described the difficulty of writing the script: "It's a tricky adaptation because like a lot of Chuck's work, it operates in a heightened satirical, dark world, yet this one is one of his black romantic comedies, so getting the tone right took me some time."

Filming


Clark Gregg was attached to film Choke in his directorial debut. Production was originally slated for 2006, but Gregg was temporarily occupied with a key role on the TV comedy series The New Adventures of Old Christine
The New Adventures of Old Christine
The New Adventures of Old Christine is an American comedy series starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus which ran for five seasons on CBS from March 13, 2006, to May 12, 2010...

. By July 2007, Gregg cast actor Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell is an American actor known for his leading roles in Lawn Dogs, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Choke and Moon, as well as for his supporting roles in The Green Mile, Iron Man 2, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Frost/Nixon, Galaxy Quest, Matchstick Men, The Assassination of...

 in the lead role, as well as supporting cast members. Production began in the same month in New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. Filming lasted 25 days with a budget of $3.4 million. Clark Gregg had acted with Rockwell in a play, and the director believed that Rockwell would switch effortlessly between the dramatic and comedic moments in the film. A major filming location for Choke was the defunct Essex County Psychiatric Hospital
Essex County Hospital Center
The Essex County Hospital Center is a defunct psychiatric hospital that is located in the Township of Cedar Grove, New Jersey. The hospital was used as a normal hospital then converted to house mentally ill patients that were in need of care...

 in Cedar Grove
Cedar Grove, New Jersey
-Climate:Cedar Grove has a humid subtropical climate, with warm/hot humid summers and cool/cold winters. The climate is slightly colder overall during the summer than in New York City because there is no urban heat island effect....

. The hospital was considered a critical location by filmmakers, who believed that production would not have taken off without the discovered hospital, due to the project's minimal budget.

As opposed to dark comedies that had a sustained tone, Gregg found Choke to be more tonally complex, and that it would veer between "extremely dramatic moments" and "absurdly silly ones". The director sought to find a way to combine the two elements, drawing inspiration from the Hal Ashby
Hal Ashby
Hal Ashby was an American film director and film editor.-Birth and early years:Born William Hal Ashby in Ogden, Utah, Ashby grew up in a Mormon household and had a tumultuous childhood as part of a dysfunctional family which included the divorce of his parents, his father's suicide and his...

 films Harold and Maude
Harold and Maude
Harold and Maude is a 1971 American dark comedy film directed by Hal Ashby and released by Paramount Pictures. It incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, with a plot that revolves around the exploits of a young man intrigued with death, Harold...

 (1971) and Being There
Being There
Being There is a 1979 American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby. Adapted from the 1971 novella written by Jerzy Kosinski, the screenplay was coauthored by Kosinski and Robert C. Jones. The film stars Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard A...

 (1979) and contemporary films like Secretary
Secretary (film)
Secretary is a 2002 independent film directed by Steven Shainberg and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway and James Spader as E. Edward Grey...

 (2002) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science fiction film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, scripted by Charlie Kaufman and directed by the French director, Michel Gondry. The film uses elements of science fiction, psychological...

 (2004). In addition, the limited budget forced the director to consider economical measures throughout production.

Music


The song "Reckoner
Reckoner
"Reckoner" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, and is the seventh track on their 2007 album In Rainbows. The song was released as the third and final single from In Rainbows on 23 September 2008. It was released through the Radiohead Remix website in the form of "stems",...

" from Radiohead
Radiohead
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke , Jonny Greenwood , Ed O'Brien , Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway .Radiohead released their debut single "Creep" in 1992...

's In Rainbows
In Rainbows
In Rainbows is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Radiohead. It was first released on 10 October 2007 as a digital download self-released, that customers could order for whatever price they saw fit, followed by a standard CD release in most countries during the last week of 2007. The...

 was used to play over the film's final credits. Palahniuk had said that the band would be writing the score for the film but a spokesman for the band later said that this was incorrect.

The official soundtrack was released for purchase on iTunes on September 23, 2008.

Release


Choke premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival
2008 Sundance Film Festival
The 2008 Sundance Film Festival ran from January 17, 2008 to January 27 in Park City, Utah. It was the 24th iteration of the Sundance Film Festival. The opening night film was In Bruges and the closing night film was CSNY Déjà Vu.-Films:...

 on 21 January 2008, where it won a Special Jury Prize for a dramatic work by an ensemble cast. Having been positively received in its screening, the film was purchased for $5 million by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures, established in 1998, is a film division of Fox Filmed Entertainment alongside the larger Fox studio 20th Century Fox...

 for distribution. Choke was also the closing film for the 10th Provincetown International Film Festival
Provincetown International Film Festival
The Provincetown International Film Festival is an annual film festival founded in 1999 and held in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The festival presents a wide array of American and international narrative features, documentaries and short films for five days in June of each year.With panel...

 in Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown is a New England town located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,431 at the 2000 census, with an estimated 2007 population of 3,174...

 on June 22, 2008.

The film was originally scheduled for a commercial release on 1 August 2008, but it was postponed to September 26, 2008.

Critical reception


The film received mixed reviews from critics. As of October 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

 reported that 56% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 52 reviews, with the consensus that "While bolstered by strong performances from Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston, Choke struggles to capture the tone of Chuck Palahniuk's novel." Metacritic
Metacritic
Metacritic.com is a website that collates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows and DVDs. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green,...

 reported the film had an average score of 47 out of 100, based on 26 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews.

External links

  • Official site and trailer
  • Set visit by MTV
    MTV
    MTV, formerly an initialism of Music Television, is an American network based in New York City that launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs....