SIFF Insert Choke Pun Here
posted by June 5 at 15:50 PMon
In last week’s Constant Reader, I wrote an open letter to Chuck Palahniuk, including a little bit about his fourth novel, Choke:
I liked your first three novels quite a bit—Survivor, Fight Club, and Invisible Monsters, I thought, made kind of a trilogy of ridiculous, and somehow bighearted, American nihilism—and while your next novel, Choke, was a misfire akin to other novelists’ sophomore slump, you were clearly trying to struggle free from the cynicism that had enveloped your work. You were trying to grow.
I saw the film adaptation of Choke yesterday, and my review is here. The movie is such a studious adaptation of the novel that people who loved the book are sure to at least find the movie inoffensive, if not great. The weirdest part of the whole thing is the casting: Anjelica Huston seems too young to be a woman suffering from dementia in the present-day bits, but she seems too old to be a mother of a young boy in the flashbacks. And Sam Rockwell looks too old to be a passive young man working at a Colonial Williamsburg-type park.
The person I really feel the worst for in all this is Rockwell; he’s finally turned out a bland performance. I’ve absolutely loved him in everything he’s ever done—even Charlie’s Angels, for crying out loud—but this role, which should be perfect for him, is a flop.
There are great scenes that will please fans of the book by how closely they hew to the novel. Lascivious male viewers will find all the breasts and sex scenes they could ever want in a mainstream American movie. But it doesn’t work, put all together. and the soundtrack—so generic that I can’t even describe it, really, it just sounds like every generic independent film of the last ten years—doesn’t work at all.