Choke: Sam Rockwell Gits Weird

Choke: Sam Rockwell Gits Weird

Chuck Palahniuk’s a pretty overrated dude. It’s not that his writing is a bummer, or that it touches on useless topics. Neither’s true. But in the wake of Fight Club’s success in theaters, a huge fan base sprung up, touting the writer as the next Brett Easton Ellis – who kinda suffers from the same sort of rapid appreciation. Whether or not Fight Club was worth a shit as a film is a moot point. It’s a movie and not a book. But using Palahiuk’s Choke as the basis for another feature project should leave more than a few people luke warm at best. That being said, having the original book so significantly personalized by the film’s writer, Clark Gregg, the end result was something like an utterly different story, one sweeter than anything the novel’s author might be capable of. Regardless of that, Choke’s an entertaining vehicle for Sam Rockwell, a guy whose been slightly overlooked.

As an actor, Rockwell doesn’t approach the herculean properties someone like Kirk Douglas or Orson Welles worked with. There doesn’t seem to be that pent up rage spurting out at opportune times – or inopportune times, for that matter. Rockwell’s usually just a solid, second tier supporting guy with a number of interesting credits. Starring in Choke as a sex addicted con-artist was clearly a move based upon the film’s potential as opposed to the commercial applications the feature might possess. Anjelica Houston playing Rockwell’s mom here probably didn’t hurt.

Having such an accomplished performer as Houston should have raised Choke’s visibility a bit. But it didn’t. Either way, the malleable talent plays a character spanning a few decades in age surprisingly well. There wasn’t a huge chance voting Academy types were on-board for this one. Nor were the performances that strong. But with the two stars functioning at such a high level, the film should have received a bit more notice.

Rockwell, though, basically just gets in trouble, fucks his sex addict sponsor and heads out to restaurants in order to scam a few feelings off the unwitting saviors who come to his rescue after forcing himself to choke. Splitting time between these fine eateries and his day gig as an historical re-enactor finds Rockwell with little time to visit his rapidly deteriorating mother. Hitting on the doctors, though, doesn’t make the visits too difficult, if not a bit awkward. It’s a pretty classless role, but someone had to do it. And it’s good that task fell to Rockwell.