Choke: What You Need to Know about Film Based on Chuck Palahniuk's Novel

The dark comedy “Choke,” one of the highlights of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, will be released by Fox Searchlight in late August-early September 2008. The film adaptation, directed by actor Clark Gregg in his deature debut, stars the gifted Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston.

The film is based on Chuck Palahniuk's 2001 novel, which centers on the adventures of two misfits, Victor Mancini and his friend Denny. The narrative is episodic, and is presented out of chronological order.

It depicts how Victor grew up while going from one foster home to another. Victor's mother was found to be unfit to raise Victor. Periodically during his childhood, she kidnapped him from his various foster parents. But they would eventually be caught and he would again be sent to a child welfare agency.

In novel's present-day setting, Victor is now a man in his mid-twenties who left medical school in order to find work to support his feeble mother who is now in a nursing home. He cannot afford the care that his mother is receiving so he resorts to being a con man. He consistently goes to various restaurants and purposely causes himself to choke mid-way through his meal, luring a “good Samaritan” into saving his life. He keeps a detailed list of everyone who saves him and sends them frequent letters about fictional bills he is unable to pay. The people feel so sorry for him that they give him money, send him cards and letters asking him about how he's doing, and even continue to send him money to help him with the bills.

While growing up, Victor's mother taught him conspiracy theories and obscure medical facts, which at first confused and frightened him. This upbringing and moves from one home to another have made Victor a social misfit, a man unable to form stable relationships with women. Hence, for sexual gratification, he relies on women in addiction support groups.

Some of Palahniuk's research for Choke was conducted with total strangers at the gym and sexual addiction groups.