Choke



Title: Choke
Directed by:
Clark Gregg
Written by:
Clark Gregg, Chuck Palahniuk
Year: 2008

This time around I got the chronology right, because I read the novel Choke by Chuck Palahniuk before I watched the adaptation (I watched Fight Club before I read it). Obviously, this means that my impressions of this film are heavily biased by what I thought of the book and what I knew to expect of the film. For now, let it suffice to say that I think the adaptation is quite good and that most things i said about the novel holds true for Clark Gregg as well. This is what I said about the story before:

Choke is a highly unusual story in many ways, not only because the main character, Victor Mancini, is a sex addict who prowls recovery programs in order to find inspiration and sex partners, but also because it’s written by Chuck Palahniuk. No other author would, or indeed could, create a story around a person like Victor, about how he tries to keep his sick mother alive (though he doesn’t want to cure her; that would mean that he lost the feeling that he was needed), about how his equally deranged friend Denny collects rocks for no apparent purpose and how he fakes choking on food in several posh restaurant every evening so as to live off the generous donation of the people who save him and now feel responsible for his life. But Chuck Palahniuk can.

Turning this into something for the screen of course entails some trimming of the edges, which is in most cases good. Most of the bizarre content the author loaded the book with is either toned down or removed completely; but the director still manages to keep the feeling of the novel, something I consider a feat. However, there are some aspects of the adaptation I don’t quite understand or like. What about the rock collecting and subsequent building? In the novel, this has a purpose and is the key ingredient in Victor’s ultimate downfall, but in the film it’s simply an appendix without a clear purpose. Also, this leads to an ending which is completely at odds with the novel.

Apart from that, though, this is quite a good film, mostly because of Palahniuk original, but of course also because of the director and actors, who, for the most part, plays there roles excellently and lends credibility to an otherwise rather unbelievable story. I give the same grade to the film as I did the novel, because even though many things that were exaggerated in the novel are now gone, some good things also went down the drain, notably some things which fundamentally change the story. Four snails is good, but I think this film had potential for more.

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