Castrated twice in Sin City, stabbed and beaten to death in Bully, shot in the face in In the Bedroom, and most recently a mentally abused emotional adolescent in this year’s Sleepwalkers, Nick Stahl is steadily carving out a niche for himself as the whipping boy of contemporary American independent cinema. For good or ill, Carlos Brooks’s debut feature Quid Pro Quo allows Stahl to graduate from this bit of typecasting, making him less the passive recipient of violence, and more one who endures in its aftermath. A paraplegic Ira Glass-like public radio commentator, Stahl’s coyly named Isaac Knott is the survivor of a childhood automotive disaster that claimed the lives of his parents and the use of his legs.
As a PWD (person with disabilities), Knott navigates an AB (able-bodied) world, which the film portrays as alarmingly antagonistic. This is, we learn, a world in which hack cab drivers won’t stop for a man in a wheelchair (for fear of being mugged?) and in which no normal woman would knowingly walk into a blind date with a paraplegic. But it’s also one in which the wheelchair-bound and those around them talk incessantly about their disability and precious little else — and in which insidious, able-bodied, but nonetheless endearing perverts attempt to find ways of making themselves incapable of walking. Click here to read all of Leo Goldsmith’s review of Quid Pro Quo.