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STAY (R) (2005)

20th Century Fox

Official Site

Director: Marc Forster

Producers: Tom Lassaly, Eric Kopeloff

Written by: Bob Baker, Steve Box, Mark Burton, Nick Park

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ryan Gosling, Naomi Watts, Bob Hoskins, Janeane Garofalo

Rating:


Hot damn, this was a good movie. Commercials can’t express how good this movie is, because we all know that they’re full of shit. But hot damn! I had a sneaking suspicion that Stay was going to be good, but the ads I saw on TV just made me think that it might be stupid. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was a fantastic movie, well thought out, very artistic, and philosophically sound (trust me). Finally, a conception of heaven and hell that doesn’t involve halos or pitchforks.

This movie is about the life and death of a young artist. This lad is named Henry Letham (Gosling). He’s clearly disturbed, with his mind wracked by the mysterious death of his parents and disappearance of his love. He’s given his substitute shrink, Sam (McGregor), just three days to piece together the puzzle before he goes through with his scheduled suicide. Sam is your typical “Tell me what’s on your mind” shrink, very concerned with the feelings of those around him and somehow believing that he can talk through serious problems. Sam’s girlfriend Lila (Watts) represents all he fears about the human mind: the deep abyss of suicidal thoughts and feelings. However, she’s merely an artistic soul who feels her way through life, whereas he thinks his way through his feelings. He’s somewhat frightened that she might feel the need to cut up her wrists again, and for that reason keeps his engagement ring to himself, until he can trust her to want to live.

Henry proves to be a very difficult case for Sam, as Henry gets difficult to find when he doesn’t want to talk, and mysteriously appears uninvited when he does feel like talking. Normal talk gets Sam nowhere with Henry, so he begins to personally investigate his subject, trying to uncover the serious guilt complex deep in his soul. However nothing in his psychiatric training could prepare him for what he finds. His world begins to fall apart around him, and he cannot anchor himself in a reality he can trust. Is this all the work of a troubled mind with an imagination that can craft whole worlds? Or is a shrink getting his comeuppance for calling those without a stable reality crazy?

Like I said, this was a damn good movie. David Benioff really knows how to write a good mind-fuck, and Marc Forster is equally capable of setting up said mind-fuck. At first the various cuts from one character to another seem a little pretentious, but there really is more going on in Stay than a world going weird and an identity crisis. From the start you don’t really know what the movie is about. Is it about a young man trying to end his life artistically? Is it about the psychiatric community and its iron fist? Maybe this has something to do with a psychiatrist’s failure to appreciate the subjective nature of reality. I really love movies that make you think about whether or not the story is compatible with reality. While reality decayed around Sam, I thought, “Is this another Sixth Sense?” Up to the end, you’re left with questions and theories with no real evidence supporting or defeating them. And then the ending rolls around, and the world is tragically complete. Utterly perfect.

So, just go see this movie. I know, the commercials are kinda stupid. There’s no way around that. Madison Avenue can’t handle a movie that doesn’t have a lot of flashy explosions. I won’t lie to you; nothing blows up in this movie. I heard on one of these ads that “it will make you question your perception of reality.” It’s not going to do that unless you’ve foolishly managed to avoid questioning your reality. Deep down, through the mind-fuck, this is a story that will make you believe in heaven and hell, a secular heaven and hell that psychologists and psychiatrists really need to talk about. Thank God someone made this movie.

—Duncan Wright

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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