by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Ewan McGregor as SAM FOSTER
Ryan Gosling as HENRY LETHAM
Kate Burton as MRS. LETHAM
Naomi Watts as LILA CULPEPPER
Elizabeth Reaser as ATHENA
Bob Hoskins as DR. LEON PATTERSON
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Marc Forster
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My god, how did I miss this movie?
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Actually, I know exactly how it happened. It was destiny. I arrived right on time for the press screening last October, and the people running the screening decided to start early. It told a friend of mine – another reviewer – that I banged on the door of the theatre, but no one answered. He told me I didn’t miss anything. Later that week, when the film came out, I saw the brutal reviews come in. Then the weekend numbers agreed. The movie was a bomb, so I didn’t bother to see it.
What a mistake! If I had seen it before the beginning of the year, it would have easily made my Top 10 list.
Do realize that “Stay” is not a film for everyone. It takes a special person to appreciate it. I have a habit of loving some of these films that make it into release only to sink in the mainstream audience. Other films like this I have thoroughly enjoyed include “The Final Cut” and “The Jacket.”
“Stay” appears to be a psychological thriller, but as you get deeper into the story, you know there’s something more. Yes, there are predictable moments in the film, and I did have a sense of where the final twist was going. However, the journey through the film is the best part, even if you can guess the end.
Ryan Gosling plays Henry, a college student bent on killing himself. He visits a psychologist named Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) who becomes the only person he can trust. Henry appears confused, claiming he murdered his parents yet seeing them throughout the film. Sam gets swept up into his twisted view of reality and starts to share his visions.
The journey through the story is Sam’s, although Henry is both a participant and an observer. The story continues to throw out strange elements that will keep you guessing throughout.
“Stay” is a film that revels in breaking the rules – those of both storytelling and filmmaking techniques. However, the genius is revealed in this because the filmmakers know exactly why and how they are breaking the rules. The filmmakers take chances, and they pay off in the long run.
So often, I have seen films like this that try to walk the fine line between creativity and confusion. Director Marc Forster manages to walk that line with precision.
The DVD comes with both the fullscreen and widescreen versions of the movie. There are several scene-specific commentary tracks that feature Forster and select members of the cast. Additional features include a spotlight on the music as well as the phenomenon that inspired the story itself.
Unless you were quick on the draw last fall, you probably missed “Stay” in its initial release. It is definitely a non-traditional film, and I can understand why it never really found an audience. It may be intimidating to some and frustrating to others, but “Stay” is definitely worth checking out for a taste of something different.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Fullscreen (1.33:1) and widescreen (2.35:1) versions. French and Spanish language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.