I’m a sucker for dramas of addiction, and I know I’m not alone. We’re all hooked on something, even if it’s just french fries or Sudoku; the tug of addiction — of using x to fill that hole inside — is what our entire consumer culture is built on. Choke, based on a Chuck Palahniuk novel, is a dirty-minded satirical-psychotic comedy of sex obsession (and other yummy derangements). It comes at you in quick, rude snippets, popping you into the fantasies of its hero, Victor, a boyishly sleazy player who goes to Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings mostly so that he can pick up the tramp-of-the-week.
As Victor, Sam Rockwell is scurrilous yet moonstruck, with a dazed reptilian stare; he’s like a Jimmy Fallon who’s forgotten how to crack himself up. He makes Victor the most cuddly of lotharios, with a screw invisibly loose. When Victor visits his mom in a mental hospital (where he pretends to flirt with the randy old ladies), we see what untightened the screw: His erotic compulsions all trace back to this clinging, deluded, withholding mother, played by Anjelica Huston with a touch of Livia Soprano’s mad grandeur. Choke has a stylized synthetic zaniness, but far more than Fight Club (the film or Palahniuk?s book), it builds its motifs into an amusing neurotic playground. Victor may be a slime, with no pretense of wanting women for anything but a quick shag (his staged ”attack” on an Internet pickup who fetishizes being raped is a delirious piece of sexual theater). Yet Choke shows us what it really feels like to be that way. It?s an indelibly warped cartoon of lust and despair. B+