Choke: A Movie Review

As I have stated before, I am a huge fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s earlier books. Like most people, I found out about his work from the movie “Fight Club,” which I loved, and still do to this day. Fans have been waiting nine years for another adaptation, getting their dreams crushed along the way with cancellations for various reasons, such as Survivor not being adapted after September 11th due to the fact the plot involves a plane hijacking. After a long wait, they finally got their wish, with the newly released movie “Choke.”

The plot follows Victor Mancini, a young sex addict who makes himself choke in restaurants in order to get saved by people so he can use the sympathy of a near death experience to get money from them in order to keep his senile mother in a nursing home. His mother never remembers who he is, and Victor is trying to find out about his past before she loses her mind completely. The story only gets stranger from there.

Casting for the film was perfect. Sam Rockwell plays Victor the way he was meant to be played, bitter and desperate, in a darkly humorous way. The supporting cast was great too, all putting on good performances, but it felt like a lot of their roles were overlooked in support of the main story, one of the films biggest problems.

Choke, as a novel, was not long. As a movie, it’s even shorter. Most of the side stories are either trimmed down or cut out completely to give more screen time to the main plotline. However, in cutting these out, it weakens the movie, as Victor’s story does not feel strong enough to support the movie by itself, even in the runtime of 89 minutes. At times it feels as if the director only made the movie to film some of the raunchier scenes in the book. The few sub-plots introduced in the movie get no closure at all, and leave the viewer feeling a little disappointed and confused as to what the point was in introducing these stories at all.

Watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think back to “Fight Club,” a movie which followed the book pretty closely, making only a few changes, and ran at almost two and a half hours. “Choke” on the other hand, feels more like a fan film, like it was adapted just to re-create some of the more outlandish scenes in the book. While I have no problems with these scenes, I thought they were shot well, I don’t see why another half hour could not have been added to the movie to flesh it out a little.

I’m not saying the movie’s bad, but it could have been better. The humor is there, the acting is great, and the plot is intriguing, even though it does feel stretched. I’d recommend seeing it, but read the book too, you’ll get more out of it, and it’ll tie up some of those ends the movie left loose. With the release of “Choke,” other books of Palahniuk’s are being considered for adaptation, such as Haunted, and Lullaby. I can only hope that the directors of these possible films do not go on to make the same mistakes this movie made.


  1. Nice review.
    I can’t wait to see this movie. I read the book when it was first published and have since re-read it in anticipation of this film.

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