The Enigmatic Gosling
Ryan Gosling sitting on a road in front of a burning vehicle, a queue of traffic sits behind whilst sirens can be heard in the distance, he gets up and walks towards camera and as he reaches the camera it switches to Ewan McGregor waking up with a start, a ring in his hand. That is how "Stay" starts, seriously stylish in look and mysterious as we are left confused by what has happened. Confused is how you are meant to feel because "Stay" is one of those mind fuck movies where the line between real and imaginary is blurred and we are left to wonder and try and work out what is going on between McGregor and Gosling's characters as well as the significance of others. And the confusion is heightened because this is a movie which is visually a piece of art, repetitive structures, stylish stair cases, scenes which blur into another and several eye catching camera angles and locations. The trouble is that you catch on quickly that all is not as it seems and no matter how much you try and work out what is real you can't, well not until it tries to explain everything during the final 15 minutes.
With Dr. Beth Levy (Janeane Garofalo) taking time off with exhaustion Dr. Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor - The Island) is standing in for her as psychiatrist and his first patient is the strange Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling - The Notebook). Henry's behaviour and ability to predict the future is unnerving and mystifying especially when he announces he is going to kill himself in 3 days. Having already saved his girlfriend Lila (Naomi Watts)when she tried to commit suicide Sam takes it upon himself to save Henry but the more he tries to involve himself in Henry's world the more confused he becomes as nothing makes any sense.
"Nothing makes any sense" is a line from "Stay" and to be honest up until the final 15 minutes nothing made any sense as we have this mystery of Henry. Now the one thing you learn quickly is all is not as it seems, we see scenes repeat themselves, supposedly dead people appear and Henry predicts the weather with unnerving accuracy. But the thing is that we are meant to be trying to unravel what is what, why Dr. Sam never wears socks or what the importance of a ring is. It basically has all the components of this intriguing mystery where we play sleuth and try and guess wtf is what before all is revealed.
Now all is revealed at the end and it sort of clears things up or at least you get the main gist of what is what. That main gist is kind of disappointing because I don't think you can work that out, it comes from almost nowhere and is actually a little annoying. But because through out the movie we are inundated with so many curious elements that not everything is wrapped up. It could be the case that I missed something, it's quite possible because there is so much going on in "Stay" that trying to keep track of all the clues and in the end red herrings is impossible.
Adding to the complexity is that visually "Stay" is a piece of art, stunning camera angles, intriguing buildings and structures, repetitive patterns and cleverly edits scenes make it visually stimulating. In fact it is possibly a little too visually stimulating because whilst a scene featuring an impressive spiral staircase is intriguing it ends up being distracting and making you think about that rather than something more important. Director Marc Forster possibly was going for that but because there is so many visually impressive scenes as there are clues it becomes an assault on your eyes and mind.
If "Stay" has a weakness it is 2 of the 3 main performances because whilst nothing wrong with Ewan McGregor's and Naomi Watts's performances I couldn't take to them, especially listening to McGregor deliver an American accent. But then when you have Ryan Gosling delivering Henry this enigmatic character it is hard to compete from the big things of acting mysterious to the smallest of things such as the way his lip quivered in a scene Gosling commands your attention.
What this all boils down to is that "Stay" is basically another mind fuck movie which toys with you in trying to work out wtf is going on before finally explaining right at the end. The pay off is not as good as I hoped for especially as between the artistic styling and the long list of clues I expected something more connected. But for fans of mind fuck movies "Stay" is well worth a watch, visually you will be blown away.