Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Twenty years ago young Isaac Knott, while riding to parts unknown with his free loving parents, was blindsided by a pickup truck which took the lives of his parents and robbed him of his ability to walk. Today Isaac has more than adjusted to this injury of his working as a public radio talk show host and while speaking to us through narration lets us know, in case were wondering, that he can have sex. Oddly enough Isaac I wasn’t wondering the least bit about your ability to have sex. Soon Isaac starts getting these anonymous tips from a woman informing him about people who have the burning desire to become handicapped, some even offering to pay a doctor to amputate a leg or two. The strange thing is that this particular affliction isn’t fiction apparently.

Isaac makes his way to one of the meeting places where one these groups of ‘wannabes’ as they are known meet up, all in wheel chairs, and there was even a dude sporting a breathing tube, though none of them needed these physical aids. Isaac just wants to know what prompts somebody to want to do such infernal nonsense. Eventually this leads Isaac to the woman who has been sending him these anonymous emails named Fiona (Vera Farmiga) who also has the burning desire to be disabled, though as she informs us she’s not one of these wannabes that we’ve met before, but a woman who is already crippled in an able bodied persons body. Whatever that means.

Quite the strange bird this Fiona. She has body braces and wheel chairs, seems to be completely hot for Isaac for some reason or another, though Isaac’s fire still burns for his wheelchair bound ex-girlfriend, and she’s hiding something. Then one day Isaac finds a magic pair of shoes. We kid you not. Magic Freaking Shoes. The shoes seem to have given Isaac the ability to walk again. Couple this with Fiona who desperately wants to lose her ability to walk and wants Isaac’s help to make this dream come true. Now like Isaac I’m thinking she could do this on her own but nope, she wants Isaac’s help and won’t accept no for answer and even takes his freaking magic shoes. Bitch. The question is why is this woman messing with this dude? I mean one minute she’s giving him the poo and the next minute she’s stealing his magic shoes. What’s up with that? All will be answered.

My good friend Tyrone kind of recommended this movie to me, but not really. Even though director Carlos Brooks is also the writer of this movie my friend Tyrone maintains that concept for this film actually stems from a Clive Barker short story and conceptualized quite poorly in his opinion. And if my boy Tyrone says this comes from a Clive Barker short story then I’m apt to believe the man. However since I’ve never read this particular story that Tyrone cherishes, so I don’t have those expectations weighing me down when watching ‘Quid Pro Quo’ which is all on its own a rather odd little film.

Brooks uses the affliction know as Body Integrity Identity Disorder as a launching point to examine the lives of the two principles in this movie Isaac and Fiona, and if the actors in this film were any less skilled than Nick Stahl and of course Vera Farmiga, who we’ve been a fan of here at the FCU since she was in that quickly canceled TV show from a few years back ‘U.C. Undercover’, this movie would’ve been damn near unwatchable since it was so plodding and meandering in its relatively brief running time. The good thing is that this pair of actors kept us watching what they were doing and interested in what they were doing until the movie ever so slowly started to reveal itself. Brooks also makes clever use of lighting techniques and camera angles to heighten the mood and further the emotion in the film, sometimes giving it the sensibilities of a thriller while at the same time still looking very much like something you’d see on IFC late at night.

This is what the conundrum is in watching ‘Quid Pro Quo’, and that is what exactly is this movie? The fact that it never settles into to anything in particular keeps you on the outside looking into the lives of these fractured people, never allowing you to fully get into what they are all about. Also assisting in this disconnect is a plot that jumps from the psychological to fantasy to a twisty thriller to an operatic tragedy. To the contrary it is the fact that Carlos Brooks has these different elements of the film flying in from all directions and pair very good performances from his leads that also keeps you interested in watching what’s going on and most importantly, interested in how it’s going to end. To that effect, the movie was ultimately satisfying even though I spent a lot of time not sure of what I was watching. Odd little movie this ‘Quid Pro Quo’.

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