by Amy Diaz
Ewan McGregor pushes the limits of his charm in Stay, a graceless
suspense movie that puts more effort into its big twist ending than it
does into the whole rest of the movie.
know the movie will end with a twist as every scene is jam-packed with
visual clues like crazy-ill-fitting pants (which McGregor nonetheless
wears well) and sets of identically dressed twins and triplets. Neat,
you think the first time you see it. Oh, brother, this can’t end well,
you think the fifth time.
Sam (McGregor) is a psychiatrist who takes a few patients for an ailing
colleague. One of those patients is Henry (Ryan Gosling), a
too-cool-for-hair-grooming art student with suicidal thoughts and a
defeatist attitude. And a possible ability to tell the future.
Sam is intrigued by the boy, in part because of his suicidal
patient-turned-girlfriend Lila (Naomi Watts). She’s also an artist.
She’s over her depression, maybe, mostly, and Sam plans to marry her,
probably. His desire to save Henry seems, in part, a desire to prove
that such a person can be saved, that, say, marrying such a person isn’t
just a fruitless exercise.
But, as the movie progresses, other things become clear. Henry knows too
much for just your average crazy student — is he psychic? Is he dead? Is
he just a physical manifestation of someone else’s subconscious — Sam,
Lila, another psychiatrist played by Janeane Garafalo with a truly
horrific blonde dye job?
It’s at about this point when all the razzle-dazzle of M.C.
Escher-like-staircases and the proliferation of visual patterns start to
overtake whatever plot the movie might have started out with. I began to
get the distinct feeling that the movie was not just telling its story
with an overemphasis on mystery but seriously jerking me around. We are
given tiny scraps of dialogue, bits of images, pieces of a story and
asked to remember them with little explanation as to why we should
bother or what it will ultimately get us. It’s like when your mom asks
you to hold a shopping bag, just for a moment, and an hour later you
realize you’ve been suckered into carrying half-a-dozen packages all
over the mall.
“Neener, neener, made you look,” the movie says in its final moments.
Well, yeah, of course you made us look; you’re the movie, we’re the
audience. We paid to look and our money should have bought us more than
what amounts to some cheap, magic-for-beginners sleight of hand.