Quid Pro Quo

"Very Good"

Quid Pro Quo Review


Isaac (Nick Stahl) is in a wheelchair, injured as a young boy and quietly resentful of the fact ever since. He's also a radio newscaster, telling odd little stories into the microphone and drawing on his life experiences, kind of like Garrison Keillor, but meek.

Isaac is eventually drawn into a potential story courtesy of an anonymous caller and emailer... and finally he stumbles into the world that will ultimately become what Quid Pro Quo is all about. The people he encounters at one of those kind of support group round tables you only see in the movies are called "Wannabes." Why? They are fully functioning adults but want to be paraplegic (or even quadriplegic). They roll around in wheelchairs, longing for the day when they won't be able to stand up to get out of them. (One guy even wears a faux breathing tube, which is supremely creepy.)

It isn't long before the anonymous caller turns out to be Fiona (the increasingly reliable Vera Farmiga), who first claims that her friend is a wannabe and finally admits that, of course, there is no friend. She wants to get to know Isaac because of his handicap... and this evolves (quickly) into a sexual relationship as each explores the culture (and, er, body) of the other.

The quid pro quo of the title is a double entendre: The deal the two make, on the surface, is to share information one piece for one piece. Isaac discusses what it's like to be in the chair. Fiona explains why she wants to be in one. (Though take one look at her in a gothic body brace, sans outerwear, and you're likely not to care what her reasons might be.) But we soon understand the title to also imply something about their relationship, and of course how they'd both love to trade places if they could.

Things rumble along as Isaac pulls out of his funk and Fiona becomes more and more manic, clearly coming unhinged. At the risk of spoiling some of the surprise, things reach a head when Fiona pushes her obsession into reality while Isaac realizes he may be getting his feet back. The film detours into an unexpected, and not entirely satisfying, direction at this point... but overall it manages to work.

I feel like Stahl has played this character before, sans wheelchair, and Farmiga is wholly watchable, if her mania is a little too on the surface. First-time writer/director Carlos Brooks has some great ideas here -- a rarity among films, Quid Pro Quo has the best "middle" I've seen in a long time -- but it takes too long to get started and his attention wanders too far in the end.



Quid Pro Quo

Facts and Figures

Run time: 82 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 20th January 2008

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: HDNet Films, Sanford%2FPillsbury Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Isaac Knott, as Fiona, Rachel Black as Janice Musslewhite, as Edie, as Hugh, as Candy

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