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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quid Pro Quo

I am a sucker for films that involve murder, mayhem, and story lines that are out of the norm. Given this, I looked forward to seeing Quid Pro Quo, a film made by Carlos Brooks that stared Vera Farmiga and Nick Stahl. The film reviews I read all characterized Quid Pro Quo as akin to David Cronenberg's Crash. I got to watch Quid Pro Quo last night and am at a loss as to what to make of the film.

The main characters, played by Farmiga and Stahl, are Fiona and Isaac Knott. Isaac is an NPR reporter who was paralyzed in a car accident as a child. Fiona is an attractive blonde art restorer that works in a museum. Fiona contacts Knott about a group of people that want to be disabled. Characterized as "wannabes" Isaac tries to understand why anyone would desire to be paralyzed or become an amputee by choice. Two story lines emerge in this film, first, being disabled for "wannabes" is an exalted status and a wheelchair is akin to a throne. Second, Fiona is a closet "wannabe" and seduces Isaac because she has an overwhelming desire to be paralyzed. The first half of the film is captivating. Fiona and Isaac are interesting characters that draw in the viewer. Isaac is reserved and a thoughtful soul. In contrast, Fiona is a beautiful, exotic, and creepy. Their developing relationship is fascinating to watch.

From my perspective, the most interesting part of the film involves subtle and pointed comments about disability. For example, I liked the low wheelchair height camera angle that followed Isaac as he navigated the streets of the city. Another disability theme that was well done involved Isaac's dating life. Isaac's co-worker sets up a date for him and the woman he was supposed to meet walks out once she realizes he uses a wheelchair. Another scene worth noting involved Fiona's seduction of Isaac in which he declares "Yes, I can have sex". In answering an unspoken question Isaac is confronting a specific social inequity--disabled people are considered public property and expected to answer any and all questions that pop into people's minds. At the forefront of rude and intrusive questions people ask is about sex.

The problem with Quid Pro Quo is that once the relationship between Isaac and Fiona is established the film spins out of control. The story line becomes convoluted and grossly unrealistic. I understand the filmmakers intent--a role reversal in the lives of the two central characters--but the way this is accomplished is terrible. Fiona "comes out of the closet" and uses a wheelchair while Isaac gets a pair of magic shoes that enable him to walk. Worse yet, the film tries to explain the cause of Isaac's disability and Fiona's obsession with paralysis. In short, Quid Pro Quo is an interesting movie that had great potential but failed to resonate in the end.

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