Quid Pro Quo (2008)

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Released 6-Jan-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-(1:56) Good quality, 1.75:1, 4x2 transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 81:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Carlos Brooks
Studio
Distributor
Magnolia Pictures
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Nick Stahl
Vera Farmiga
Rachel Black
Jessica Hecht
Jacob Pitts
Ashlie Atkinson
Jamie McShane
Pablo Schreiber
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $14.95 Music Mark Mothersbaugh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.1 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, At start only title and two leads with Stahl v/o.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

    Beyond Home Entertainment have delivered up another absorbing film with the release of Quid Pro Quo. The release is budget priced, but Beyond have let us down in the "extras" department. This superficially strange tale has within it a sense of truth and beauty that is quite haunting and lures you back for a second viewing.

    Isaac Knott (Nick Stahl) is a reporter for a New York public radio station where he presents a programme, Downtown Local, which delivers "stories of life in the city". In flashback we witness a terrible car accident that resulted in the deaths of both his parents, while the then eight year old Isaac is confined to a wheelchair, seemingly for the remainder of his life. Back to the present day, and Isaac is in his wheelchair at the radio station, where he receives a tip from a listener about a bizarre happening at a local hospital. A man has gone into the hospital and offered $250,000 to a young intern to amputate one of his perfectly good legs. In pursuit of the story Isaac enters the subculture of the "wanabes", those with Body Integrity Identity Disorder. These individuals, who evidently exist and were the subject of a 2002 documentary entitled Whole, fake a disability in their everyday lives, and in extreme cases find release and fulfilment in making that disability a reality, going to extremes such as voluntary amputation. Isaac encounters the source of the tip-off, Fiona (Vera Farmiga), who tells him that she is "trapped in a walking person's body". Eventually we come to learn why Fiona is so entrapped. Isaac is attracted to the beautiful and erotic Fiona - "I can have sex. I just can't catch a cab" - and the uninhibited Fiona soon has her way with the wheelchair bound young man. Another major event in Isaac's life is the purchase of a pair of two-toned shoes, Fred Astaire style, and finds that after the sex, and wearing the shoes, he is able to walk. More of the plot I would not give away. Enough to say that along the way we meet Isaac's co-workers, Rachel Black, Jessica Hecht and Jacob Pitts, his ex-girlfriend, Raine (Aimee Mullins), also a PWD (person with disability) and her AB (able bodied) new man, Scott (Dylan Bruno), and Fiona's mother (Kate Burton),  all nicely observed and depicted by an extremely able cast. By the conclusion there has been an exchange between the principals : Fiona has given something to Isaac, and in return Isaac has given something to Fiona. Quid pro quo.

    First time writer / director Carlos Brooks has shown tremendous promise with this film. The script is intelligent, economical and frequently funny, without the humour ever turning "black". The camerawork by Michael McDonough is often very beautiful, with a flowing dynamism in many scenes. There is a wonderful vitality in the street scenes with Nick Stahl propelling his chair along the pavements. Brooks has also handled his actors very well - or he has cast darned good actors who have given memorable performances in previous films. Nick Stahl has been an outstanding young talent since his big-screen debut 1993's The Man Without a Face, and totally unforgettable in In the Bedroom. Here he delivers a beautifully rounded sensitive characterisation of a young man facing his life with integrity, humour and hope. Playing opposite, or against, him is the fascinating Vera Farmiga (The Departed) whose Fiona is erotic, fascinating and threatening. She is rather like a classic film noire femme fatale who has found herself in the wrong film. Her performance is quite amazing as we watch her through the action of the film, but by the final frame everything falls neatly into place.

    This film will not be to everyone's liking. I admit to being turned off at times by the world of these "wanabes", but I really did not know what I was watching, being unaware of where the film was heading. Regardless of your reaction to some of this content, which ultimately is not what the film is about at all, there are three very good reasons to see this film. Firstly, this is a writing and directorial debut from an obviously talented and accomplished film maker. And the other two reasons are the leads, two under appreciated actors who consistently  turn in first rate performances. Nick Stahl and Vera Farmiga make Quid Pro Quo a rewarding experience for anyone who appreciates fine film acting.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is excellent.
    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
    
    Shot on Digital Video, the image is extremely sharp, with a beautifully clear, smooth image.
    Shadow detail is excellent, and there is no low level noise.
    The colour is vital and vibrant, ranging from the glowing radio station control panels, the bustling street scenes to the dark secret meeting of the "wanabes".
    Skin tones are exemplary.
    There were no MPEG or film artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.
    This is a single layer disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

        There is only one audio stream on this local release, English in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded at 192 Kbps.
        The film is dialogue driven and every syllable was crystal clear.
        Sync was perfect from beginning to end.
        Although we have not been given the 5.1 audio, the two channel surround encoded stream provides a great deal of activity in the rear speakers, with ambient sounds galore in the street scenes. The interesting and often brooding score by Mark Mothersbaugh is very nicely reproduced, though less dynamic than one would hope.

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   The only extra on the Region 4 release is the theatrical trailer.
    .

Main Menu :

       There is quite a stylish use of monochromatic live action from the film, combined with music and sound effects - rain - from the soundtrack

       Options presented are : Play Movie
                                           Chapter Selection : Opens the first of three screens, each with four thumbnailed chapters. Music plus rain as for Main Menu.
                                           Trailer 
   

Theatrical Trailer : (1:56)
    This is a very good trailer which arouses real interest in the film. Very good quality, presented at approximately 1.75:1 in a 4x3 transfer, with Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kbps. .

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Very disappointingly, the Region 4 release misses out on :

                   Audio : Dolby Digital 5.1 
                   Spanish Subtitles
                   Audition footage of Nick Stahl (4:48) and Vera Farmiga (5:42)
                   Extract from 2002 documentary Whole (10:00) 
                   Deleted Scenes (10:02)
                   Storyboard
                   Tulip Montage
                   Trailers

Summary

    Not for everyone, as many will be put off by some of the content of the film, ultimately the film has a very positive message. Beautifully crafted and shot on digital video, the film looks brilliant. The first work from a gifted writer / director, and excellent performances from Nick Stahl and Vera Farmiga. Definitely worth a look, but then everything Nick Stahl does is worth seeing. The release is budget priced, but it is still very disappointing that the only extra is the trailer, considering the list of goodies on the Region 1 release.
    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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