Choking Man is an intense blend of psychological drama and magical realism that encapsulates the contemporary immigrant experience in America. Jorge is a morbidly shy Ecuadorian dishwasher toiling away in a shabby Jamaica, Queens, New York diner run by Rick. He works all day long in the shadow of the ever-present Heimlich Maneuver instruction poster which hangs in the diner kitchen. From his solitary kitchen corner, Jorge gropes mutely for a bond with Amy, the newly hired Chinese waitress and even though she tries to reciprocate, the gulf that separates them may be too large. On the job he is continually tormented by his coworker Jerry and at home in his Harlem boarding, under the psychological control of his domineering 'roomate,' he battles his inner demons. Set in the vicinity of JFK airport, the most culturally diverse neighborhood in the world, Choking Man captures the feeling of claustrophobia and almost literal asphyxiation newcomers to America experience as they struggle to ...Written by
I understand the premise, the characters, the gritty realism, but what I don't understand what this movie is about. During the film, I kept thinking about how "In Between Days", also released this year, was a far superior film about the immigrant experience. That film's overall "alone in the world" sense was conveyed much better. I liked the character of Amy, played by Ms. Yuan, but I don't feel enough was done for her. The character of Jorge, while I understand his pathological shyness, is annoying. I've been told this actor is good, and he probably is, but this role does nothing for me. And, Mandy Patinkin, usually so good, is completely wasted in his role. He is clearly a one note performer in the role of the diner owner. I like that the film was shot on location in Queens, applaud the effort the writer/director/producer made, understand all the characters, but do not like the film. I will, however, look for the films the two main characters have been in. They have potential, but this film shouldn't be the one they're most proud of.
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