Victor Mancini is hopelessly addicted to sex. He attends Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings simply to hook up with the horny women who are also attending. He’s constantly on the lookout for some possible nookie on the sly at his colonial America reenactment job. He envisions every woman he sees naked, no matter her looks or age.
But that’s not all. When eating out, Victor will often force himself to choke on his food, eliciting a lifesaving response from strangers. Then, he proceeds to milk them for as much cash as possible over the ensuing years. They owe him, Victor figures. After all, he made them heroes.
Such is the story of Choke, the second big-screen adaptation of a Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) novel. Directed by veteran character actor Clark Gregg (Iron Man) and starring the weirdly charismatic Sam Rockwell (Frost/Nixon), Choke is a film that deals with plenty of interesting themes, but falters somewhat mostly due to the banal directorial debut of Gregg.
Choke has a lot of things going for it, chief being Rockwell’s performance. Perfectly cast as the rarely sympathetic Victor, he deftly treads the line of total bastard and man who surprisingly has a soul. His humanity is betrayed mostly in interactions with his mother (Anjelica Huston, The Darjeeling Limited), who has rapidly increasing dementia and is in a mental care hospital, and with Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald, No Country For Old Men), a doctor at the hospital.
Huston is unquestionably a great actress, but feels miscast in the role, especially in flashbacks where she looks nowhere near as young as we’re supposed to believe she is. Macdonald is excellent as Paige, the woman who wins Victor’s heart, but doesn’t have the same luck going for his nether regions. Every time they try to have sex, Victor can’t get it up. I want to like you, so I don’t think I can sleep with you, he tells her.
Elsewhere, Victor hangs out with his best friend, fellow sex addict and chronic masturbator Denny (Brad William Henke, World Trade Center), who takes on the task of defeating his addiction with the help of a stripper named Cherry Daiquiri.