Quid Pro Quo (Magnolia, 2008) D: Carlos Brooks, w/ Nick Stahl, Vera Farmiga. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
This is, hands down, the strangest thing I have ever encountered. There are people out there who would be happy to have one or more of their limbs amputated. It's a sexual thing, an identity thing, and it's called Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). In the extras you'll find real people with this condition talking about their feelings and what they've done about them. They seem completely normal. Their impact is anything but.
The movie isn't as strange as its subject - nothing could be - but it never lapses into disease-of-the-week schlock or exploitation horror. First-time writer-director Carlos Brooks trusts BIID's shock value to carry itself, and constructs a solid drama from character, mystery and a dash of fantasy.
Isaac (Nick Stahl) is a wheelchair-bound radio reporter who gets steered to a secret group of paraplegic wannabes and then to the mysterious Fiona (Vera Farmiga), who has very specific desires of her own.
Stahl (John Connor in Terminator 3) and Farmiga (The Departed) make the most of their meaty roles and resist, for the most part, what must have been powerful temptations to plunge into melodrama.
Good high-def visuals, brisk pace and a tight script keep the film from betraying its small budget. Too bad it couldn't have stretched to a commentary or interviews.
EXTRAS Documentary extract, audition tapes, deleted scenes, storyboards. Widescreen. Spanish subtitles.