If you needed to find something—anything—redeeming about Carlos Brooks’s ridiculous romantic thriller, you can at least credit it for not sticking to the paths most traveled. Isaac (Stahl) hosts a radio show devoted to everyday-people stories—think Ira Glass minus the crazy-sexy-nerd appeal—and was left partially paralyzed from a childhood car accident. He gets a tip about an underground network of folks who seek fulfillment through faking disabilities; the source, it turns out, is a woman (Farmiga) whose ties to the “wanna-bes” may go deeper than she’s admitting. Most viewers would assume Brooks is steering them toward a Cruising-like suspense flick set in the world of paraplegic subcultures, or a wheelchair-fetish version of Cronenberg’s Crash. Instead, the director is laying the foundation for a parable about guilt, forgiveness and queasy notions regarding the titular Latin phrase.
But once a pair of magic shoes—specifically, brown wing tips that allow Isaac to start walking again—gets introduced into the mix, Quid Pro Quo loses what little credibility or interest it’s managed to drum up. Not even a “logical” explanation for the miraculous recovery can make up for the narrative’s descent into sheer ludicrousness; the film can’t give you anything that balances out the feeling that you’ve been rooked.