Quid Pro Quo: The Pleasures of Paralysis

Skirting perversity, alas


Quid Pro Quo
Directed by Carlos Brooks
Magnolia Pictures
Opens June 13, Sunshine Cinema

For the first half hour, Quid Pro Quo flirts with the kind of sexual perversity that fueled Crash, David Cronenberg's lurid 1996 film about a subculture of auto-erotics. But the opening scenes prove little more than a tease, for there is nothing fetishistic—much less metaphorical—about the case of Isaac Knott (Nick Stahl), a public-radio reporter who was eight years old when a car crash killed his parents and left him a paraplegic. An anonymous tip leads Isaac to a clandestine fraternity of "wannabe amputees"—physically intact individuals who yearn to be disabled. His guide into this strange universe is Fiona (Vera Farmiga), a mysterious beauty—and soon lover—who craves not dismemberment, but physical paralysis. Farmiga is captivating, Stahl less so—although a bigger problem is writer/director Carlos Brooks's script, which sets up one story, then shifts gears into something more personal and psychologically specific. That's normally a plus, deepening the viewer's sense of involvement, but the transition here is bumpy and, ultimately, unconvincing.


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