UK release date: 3 March 2006

cast list
Ewan McGregor
Ryan Gosling
Kate Burton
Naomi Watts
Bob Hoskins

directed by
Marc Forster

For the past few years, numerous movies have taken pleasure in screwing with our conception of reality. As if borne out of some post-millennial fear of our world, since 2000 we’ve had the likes of Memento, Vanilla Sky, Donnie Darko and The Jacket all feeding into this growing paranoia. Now, five years into this spree of movies, comes Stay.

Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) is an Ivy League professor who takes on the case of troubled student Henry (Ryan Gosling), who tells Foster he is going to commit suicide on Saturday at midnight. Unable to keep him in for prolonged observation Foster begins a search for Henry in order to stop his prophecy from becoming true. Along the way, strange events start to occur. Foster finds a man who Henry claims to be his father. The only problem being that Henry’s father is dead. The further Foster goes, the stranger things get.

Stay comes from Marc Forster, one of the most talented and daring directors working in Hollywood today. Unlike many, he doesn’t tie himself down to one genre or one style of direction. His first breakout movie was the gritty 2001 drama Monster’s Ball, a raw powerful film which garnered an Oscar for Halle Berry. Next up was the whimsical fantasy biopic Finding Neverland and now comes Stay, a trippy reality-bending thriller. Oh and just to make sure he’s covered all bases, there’s a Will Ferrell comedy coming out next year.

In fact, his direction is Stay’s strongest point. The film looks incredible. Forster enjoys confusing us and there are some wonderful transitions throughout. There is a brilliant scene in a college building where everyone in the background appears to be walking in groups of identical threesomes and there is a confrontation near the end on a bridge that is one of the most beautiful scenes of the year. Taken on a purely visceral level, Stay is hard to beat.

However, it’s a shame that the script couldn’t really match the visuals.The film struggles with maintaining a constant sense of suspense and there are a few too many ‘weird’, unexplained scenes which after awhile only serve to infuriate rather than intrigue. The main narrative problem is the final twist. Yes, unsurprisingly in a film such as this there is a twist. It’s actually not a bad twist, it’s just we’ve seen it so many times before. It’s revealed in a clumsy manner and the film cheats by only giving us the clues after we know the secret.

McGregor delivers a good, if unspectacular performance while Ryan Gosling and Naomi Watts, as McGregor’s depressive girlfriend, do excellent work. Stay may have seemed a lot fresher if it had been released at the beginning of the influx of these kind of movies, but now its surprises seem stale. Although it is worth noting that for a film which had such an infuriating conclusion, I have an urge to watch it again. It’s one of those movies which gets better the more you remember it. It may also be the most visually stunning film of the year.

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