Monday, March 06, 2006

STAY - visually stylish but frustrating psychological thriller

STAY is a psycholgical thriller. It is set in modern-day New York and stars Ewan MacGregor as a psychiatrist, Dr Sam Foster. When Foster's colleague suffers a nervous breakdown he takes over one of her patients - a twenty-year old art student called Henry Letham. Letham is threatening to commit suicide on his twenty-first birthday and Foster is desperate to stop him. The problem is that the more Foster investigates Letham's life the more he feels he is losing grip on reality.

The movie is visually stylish and uses jarring edits and dissolves in a clever manner to unsettle the viewer and convey Foster's increasingly tenuous grip on reality. The movie also features a talented cast, including
Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling and Bob Hoskins. It is directed by the man who helmed FINDING NEVERLAND and written by the man behind 25th HOUR. But despite the incredibly impressive look and pedigree of the film, I found STAY to be a noble failure.

I love movies that rely on a clever twist or have an unsettling tone, but in this case so few pointers are given to the audience that the viewing experience becomes frustrating, alienating and finally, plain dull. When the final twist is revealed everything does make sense, but short of going back to re-view the movie it is hard to see what the cinema-goer will gain from the overall experience.

STAY was released in the US in October 2005 and is currently on release in Germany, Italy and the UK. It opens in Austria on April 28th 2006 and in France on July 26th

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