In 1999, the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club became an obsession for aimless twenty- and thirty-something males, who closely identified with its examination of the alienation felt by the so-called “middle children of history”. The film continues to resonate with disenchanted corporate drones and Ikea shoppers everywhere who work jobs they don’t want so they can buy things they don’t need.
Though Palahniuk has written nearly a dozen books since that movie premiered, it has taken until now for a second adaptation of his work to reach the screen. But it remains to be seen whether Choke, another tale of young men struggling to give their lives meaning through questionable means, will have a comparable impact.
Ethan and Joel Coen (not to be confused with Etan Cohen, cowriter of Tropic Thunder, and Joe Colen, my porn name) put the audience in a privileged position with Burn After Reading. So much so, in fact, we feel that we are in cahoots with the brotherly duo.
This dark comedy oozes tragic irony, which the Sarcasm Society, if they can be believed, defines as the “form of irony [in which] the words and actions of the characters, unbeknownst to them, betray the real situation, which the spectators fully realize.” We know more than the characters and sit uncomfortably at times, and elatedly at others, as bits of information are misunderstood or imperceptibly slip by the characters in an intolerably cruel way.