Stay is a film that won’t please everyone. The trailer initially had me interested simply because I got the feeling the marketing department had trouble knowing how to sell the film.

This comes as no surprise, as it’s impossible to describe this film for two reasons: a) you might spoil the plot, and b) your interpretation may differ greatly to someone else’s. Writer David Benioff, who will apparently be penning the upcoming Wolverine movie, has woven an incredibly tricky thriller, that never goes out of its way to explain or apologise for such unconventional storytelling. Unconventional may be exaggerating a little, but I can assure you I heard many murmurs permeate the theatre during Stay, most of which involved the phrase ‘this movie is really weird’ or ‘I don’t get it’. The movie certainly has some fierce debates raging on IMDb, particularly concerning – believe it or not – Ewan McGregor’s pants.

StayI loved this film. Absolutely loved it. It wasn’t well-rounded, and it’s hard to sympathise with characters and their predicaments when the whole experience is so disorienting. But even held at arms length, it was the otherworldly feel that I really enjoyed. The transitions between scenes alone were worth the price of admission, and at times reminded me of the continual flow of events seen in Irréversible. The tone was also reminiscent of The Machinist (El Maquinista). Marc Forster, who previously directed Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland, has created a film that seems to have nothing in common with his previous work, and I’m sure will be much less successful. I can’t imagine that Stay will do too well financially, even with the presence of McGregor (The Island) and Naomi Watts (We Don’t Live Here Anymore). My Hoopla Factor may be high, but the majority of multiplex audiences will probably be annoyed to say the least. The only thing that annoyed me was the fact that Janeane Garofalo was so terribly under utilised, especially considering she was almost unrecognisable in a very different role. I wondered if maybe she had further scenes that were cut out.

Stay isn’t perfect, effectively being a one-trick pony, but the central narrative is so darn entrancing that it doesn’t matter. Roberto Schaefer’s cinematography and Asche & Spencer’s score is fantastic. One particular scene featuring Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’ is a brilliant combination of sight and sound, being sexy and heartrending and dizzying at the same time.

Lovers of psychological thrillers, this is for you. A lot of people may find Stay a little too disorienting for their tastes, but this film had me thinking the whole time. Great films have the potential to be infinitely complex but are at their core wondrously simple. Stay fits that description perfectly.

Rating: 3.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 7th November 2005
Hoopla Factor: 4.5 stars

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