Quid Pro Quo: The Pleasures of Paralysis


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.