Running Time: 89 mins
Rated: Rated MA 15+ (sexual content, nudity and language)
Victor Mancini (Rockwell), a sex-addicted medical school dropout, keeps his increasingly deranged mother, Ida (Huston), in an expensive private pyshcairtic hospital by working as a historical re-enactor at a Colonial Williamsburg theme park. At night Victor runs a scam by deliberately choking in upscale restaurants to form parasitic relationships with the wealthy patrons who "save' him. When, in a rare lucid movement, Ida reveals that she has withheld the shocking truth of his father's identity, Victor enlists the aid of his best friend, Denny (Henke) and his mother's beautiful attending physician, Dr. Paige Marshall (Macdonald), to solve the mystery before the truth of his possibly divine parentage is lost forever.
Choke is a film that makes you cringe. Not just because of the gratuitous nature of the portrayal of sexuality and the particularly appalling religious themes and scenes in the story line, but, also, because we know from their other work that Angelica Huston and Sam Rockwell are, here, squandering their great talent on such offensive material.
The only thing going for Choke is an excellent speech about the sin of lust well over an hour into it. But this cannot justify the time wasted in watching highly dysfunctional people doing highly dysfunctional things. This includes several sex scenes set in a Catholic chapel and a claim that Victor was cloned from Jesus, with DNA harvested from a relic of the Lord's circumcision. You get the idea.
Even the big "reveal' in the last reel of the film does not allow us to forgive Choke all its many sins, but to see that the laugh has been on us all along.
I am sure that people who actually suffer from a sex addiction and benefit from Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous will leave the theatre coking with rage at the trivialisation of what is a very serious issue.
20th Century Fox Out October 30
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian Catholic film Office.