In his books, Chuck Palahniuk is becoming more and more like a smutty version of M. Night Shyamalan; he's always good for twist ending, but not before introducing us to anti-heroes trying to unravel the doomed social fabric that surrounds them. They question the fate of civilization while still rutting in its deviant filth, taking viewers and readers through a number of bizarre turns only to ultimately pay them off with another surprise.
The film version of his work Choke, a lighter fare in comparison to the anarchist themes of Fight Club, follows protagonist Victor (Sam Rockwell, who seems to thrive on these roles), a nymphomaniac who can't follow through the fourth and final step of his sex addiction program until he deals with larger stresses in his life. The most strife comes at the hands of his mother (Anjelica Houston), a woman now so mentally ill she confuses him with a string of dead lawyers. More problems mount when he falls for a down-to-earth doctor (Kelly MacDonald) who reveals that he may be, though some wild circumstances, the half-clone of Jesus Christ.
Victor's inability to connect emotionally with anyone reverberates through Rockwell's portrayal. He's scruffy and callous, but just short of being repugnant, constantly distancing himself from sentimentality or love with a cynical lone quality. We know his weaknesses all stem from issues relating to his mother, the Freudian nightmare embodied by Houston. In flashback after flashback, she manages a passionate radiance as a fugitive taking ridiculous measures to kidnap her son from a series of foster families. To see her transformation from glowing and crazed, to the ashen, degenerated old woman in the present day is the movie's biggest reward.
All the players serve their roles well, but the movie itself seems to be the biggest over-actor in trying so hard to sell itself as hip and self-effacing, only to crumble when viewers soon realize that the subject matter is tame by today's standards. Does Palahniuk actually believe that the Sex and the City generation will be shocked and awed by the sight of anal beads, or by the suggestion that a sex fiend is the relative of our Lord and Savior? Puh-leeze. Pushing the boundaries of good taste and Christian based morality are his forte, but even God is yawning right now.