Should You Stay Or Should You Go Now?

Columbus Alive | October 20, 2005
Like many a better or more entertaining movie—The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, Fight Club—Stay features a late-in-the-game reveal that changes the entire nature of the story (and, incidentally, makes it a difficult movie to review without completely ruining). This reveal also turns what seems like an incredibly coy movie into an incredibly stupid movie, one that seems to have mistook what should be a supporting character for the protagonist and followed him around by accident, while the real center of the movie spends way too much time out of frame.

In other words, though it’s set up as a sort of mystery by way of psycho-thriller, asking the audience to puzzle out what’s really going on, neither screenwriter David Benioff (Troy) nor director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) are playing fair, and they break narrative conventions for no reason other than to make the out-of-left-field ending come from completely out of the ballpark.

Ewan McGregor is an unusually hands-on psychiatrist who wears unusually short pants. He’s thinking about proposing to his live-in art teacher girlfriend Naomi Watts, but becomes increasingly unnerved when he inherits scary patient Ryan Gosling from a colleague who had a nervous breakdown trying to help him. Among his issues: Suicidal tendencies, the ability to appear and disappear at will, hearing voices, gun-toting, mistaking strangers for dead relatives, predicting the future and, in one scene, Christ-like healing powers.

What’s up with this kid? That’s what McGregor wants to find out, as he gets sucked into a vortex of weird coincidences. It’s a credit to the cast, particularly the highly watchable McGregor and Watts, that they take the material seriously enough that it never devolves into irredeemably silly psychosploitation.

Forster has plenty of neat visual tricks up his sleeves as well, from the arty stairways his characters stride to trippy déjà vu scenes that repeat like a skipping record to populating the backgrounds of certain frames with identical triplets the characters never seem to notice.

It’s enough to keep you interested in the central mystery, even if it turns out there never was a mystery, just the lamest cliché in any kind of storytelling and the most randomly bizarre point of view to tell it from.

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Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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