Opening 23 Feb 2006
If you believe in absolute reality, this film is not for you. Four people are laughing in a car crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. A tire blows out. Three people die. One survives if only for a while. Two good Samaritans try to help. One is Sam (Ewan McGregor), a high-end psychiatrist, and the other is Lila (Naomi Watts), an art history professor. Sam inherits a patient named Henry (Ryan Gosling) from another doctor who has disappeared. Henry is one of Lila’s art students. For Henry, like some arty college undergraduates, death is mesmerizing. Sam wants to help Henry.
From Dr. Caligari to Memento, many directors have asked “what is reality? sanity?” Stay is about straddling the boundary between reality and illusion, life and death, time and space. The cinematography is flawless – images recur, dilute and tease. The film is luminous but ominous, like shiny ripples in an unlit pond. Shots are swathed in golden, red, or blue/green light and represent alternative realities. Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) has filmed a multi-layered screenplay by David Benioff (25th Hour) without sacrificing the ambiguity central to the story. Hypnotically visual, this film is also a tribute to some New York architecture: the AT&T Company Building, the Cherokee, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the new library at Columbia University and the Brooklyn Bridge. Stay is a thriller of the first order, with a European sense of timing, an A-List cast and an excellent director. “Seeing” is in the eye of the beholder. (Rita Pearson Schwandt)