Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Didn't Want to Stay for "Stay"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Stay (2005)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – R for language and some disturbing images
DIRECTOR: Marc Forster
WRITER: David Benioff
PRODUCERS: Eric Kopeloff and Tom Lassally
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roberto Schaeffer
EDITOR: Matt Chesse
COMPOSERS: Asche & Spencer (Tom Scott and Thad Spencer)

DRAMA/THRILLER with elements of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling, Bob Hoskins, Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Reaser, and B.D. Wong

The subject of this movie review is Stay, a 2005 fantasy drama and psychological thriller from director Marc Forster. The film focuses on a psychiatrist who attempts to prevent one of his patients from committing suicide, while his own grip on reality slips.

A New York psychiatrist, Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor), inherits a secretive and highly unusual young man bent on suicide as his new patient. His name is Henry Lethem (Ryan Gosling), and he is capable of making bizarrely accurate predictions about the future. Henry announces to Sam that he is planning on committing suicide at midnight the coming Saturday – the day of his 21st birthday. After Henry disappears, Sam is desperate to find his patient before he offs himself, but his investigation begins to have reality-shattering effects on him.

Manhattan, where Sam lives, begins to transform into a constantly and wildly shifting dreamscape, and the deeper Sam tries to go into Henry’s subconscious, the more it changes the rational world for Sam. His search for Henry is also causing havoc in Sam’s relationship with his girlfriend, Lila Culpepper (Naomi Watts), a former patient of Sam’s who tried to kill herself. It isn’t long before both Sam and Lila are wondering where Sam ends and Henry begins.

Stay has some big names behind it. Director Marc Forster directed Halle Berry to an Academy Award in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, and his last film, Finding Neverland, earned several Oscar nominations including a Best Picture nod. The cast includes some heavyweights – Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, and a star-in-the-making – Ryan Gosling. In this film, Ryan definitely shows that something that has him marked as a movie star, a quality actor, and a matinee idol.

However, audiences will find Stay to be either fascinating or dull. It’s really a riff on Ambrose Bierce’s famous short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and the 1990 thriller, Jacob’s Ladder. The visuals are dazzling on a few occasions and quite inventive and imaginative most of the time. However, most of the time Stay also seems like an ambitious if not pretentious film from a talented novice, which means the director makes clever visual choices that still amount to a haphazard narrative. Only the film’s last ten minutes redeem everything that came before it, and that’s disappointing.

3 of 10

Friday, April 7, 2006

Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013

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