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Movie Review: Stay (7.5/10)

Posted on November 5th, 2005 filed in Movie Reviews    |   

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Ewan Mcgregor plays Sam is a psychiatrist who lives with his girlfriend artist, Lila (Naomi Watts) one of his ex patients that survived a suicide attempt earlier. One day, Sam is visited by Henry, an art student that lets him know of his intention to commit suicide the next Saturday, which coincides with his 21st birthday. Sam commits himself to help Henry and prevent the suicide from happening.


My initial impression after watching this movie was that Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, and Ryan Gosling gave compelling performances in this beautifully filmed but rather disjointed and frustratingly confusing story. I walked out of the theatre extremely annoyed at how I mostly wasted these last 2 hours.

The first class cast including the director Marc Foster (Who is behind one my favorites, Finding Neverland back in 2004) made me wonder however of whether I am missing what the whole movie is about and that things may not really be what they appear to be. And so, and after lots of head banging, pieces started to fall in place and things started to make sense. What appeared first as broken and incoherent, ended up being some of the strongest and interesting points of the movie. I went and saw the movie again and came out this time believing that this is one heck of a masterpiece.

I will be posting again discussing the film in detail in a different place. I won’t spoil any of this movie here for those who have not seen it. Be prepared however to an unusual and quite original visual experience and keep in mind that you may have to watch it, go think about it, then watch it again at least once to really start having a clue about what really is going on and thus have a blast at the end.

Some of what you will see:

Numerous twins and triplets wearing the same clothes
Very short pants that seem to monopolize Ewan Mcgregor clothes
Living people communicating with the dead
A dead dog biting a living person
Scenes recurring and repeating over and over
No conventional respect to time, place, space, or dimension
A blind person that is supposedly dead is healed by his son
A huge piano suspended in mid air and next to which balloons pass to ‘balloon heaven’
Increased incoherence and confusion as movie progresses
Endless Stairs

All the above and many others make great sense not at the end of the movie but after the viewing sequence mentionned above. (Watch, think, then watch again).
The cinematography is fascinating to say the least and is a clue to what is really going on. The transitions from scene to the other are quite interesting. What is blurred in one scene is the focus of the following one. There is much that is visually stunning here.
This is no psychological thriller and no metaphysical experience. It is not a Sixth Sense nor an Identity. If anything, it is an ‘art’ movie reminiscent of David Lynch films. If you ever understood Mulholland drive from the first viewing, you can expect to do the same with ‘Stay’.

Even though I managed (I believe) to finally ‘get’ this movie, I remain annoyed as I do believe the director should have made things clearer at least at the end instead of alienating most of the audience who will simply call off this work as a piece of junk. I doubt one can expect the average moviegoer to see a movie numerous times to finally grasp what is going on.

Accordingly, I give this movie 7.5 instead of the 9 I would have given otherwise.

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One Response to “Movie Review: Stay (7.5/10)”

  1. Vanessa Says:

    I saw this movie and I actually loved it! My boyfriend on the other hand did not like it all…. I understood it without really being able to explain it….It is like a series of subconscious images that take place which at the end complete the plot…The acting was brilliant, I felt that the scenes were al symbolic, like in dreams, you know if you see someone wearing a white gown, it means there might be death etc…and the sequence of time is non sequential….

    Anyways, I recommend all those with a bit of intellect to watch it…I loved the song at the end “cold water” by Damien Rice, brilliant lyrics, beautiful voice!

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