Why Not STAY?

The script for STAY is one of those high-concept 6TH SENSE type thrillers that sold for a lot of money and drew big name talent. It’s directed by Marc Forster (MONSTERS BALL, FINDING NEVERLAND) and stars Ewen McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling.
The film opened in October of 2005 and quickly vanished with a Worldwide total of $6million. The budget of the film is unknown, but it doesn’t look cheap. (Consider that the script alone sold for somewhere in the $1.5-2million range.)

STAY has just been released on DVD, which gave me a chance to see for myself. Why did the film receive mostly negative reviews and disappear so quickly when there’s so many talented people involved? Is it worth the rent?
Short answer…no. The most interesting thing about STAY is the highly stylized direction by Forster. Even if you didn’t know his previous films, with their mostly realistic visual approach, you have to stand up and take notice of the highly inventive camera tricks on display. Some are obvious and some are overdone, but there’s a lot of camera technique that I’ve simply never seen in a movie before. For anyone who studies editing, this film is practically a must.
What dooms STAY is the emotional content. This is one of those tricky puzzle thrillers like MEMENTO, THE USUAL SUSPECTS or THE 6TH SENSE. Only, it’s actually closer in spirit to THE VILLAGE. You watch the movie knowing you’re being jerked around, and what’s on screen isn’t worth getting involved in. So you just try to outthink the film and put the pieces together to figure out the twist ending.

And the twist ending is a big letdown. Like THE VILLAGE, it’s so obvious that the plot gymnastics were more interested in protecting the secret than keeping you hooked. The performances are fine, if empty. In the end, the film is like an Easter bunny made of sand…mostly hollow and better to look at than actually eat. Ultimately you just want to crumple it up and throw it in the trash.


Anonymous Skid said...

I fully agree. The script starts off with Ewan's character as the protagonist -- why is all of this happening to him? -- and the "crazy" guy is set up as the catalyst. Very, very quickly, however, you realize that the story belongs to the crazy guy, but for me, it was already too late to care.

12:29 PM  

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