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.