Stay (2005) is a deliberately paced, reality-bending psychological thriller that isn’t quite as ingenius as it wants to be, but still subverted my expectations enough to satisfy. Ewan McGregor stars as Sam Foster, a psychiatrist who takes on an ailing colleague’s patient, Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling), a troubled art student whose uncanny predictions take on added urgency when he sets a time and date for his own suicide. When Henry disappears, Foster works frantically to track him down and prevent a tragedy, but the investigation becomes increasingly baffling as the details of his reality start to disintegrate around him.
An intriguing slow-build, Stay is a quasi-SFnal filmic puzzle in the mold of Brazil or Jacob’s Ladder, with a what’s-really-real question at its core that ultimately does get cleverly answered. McGregor and Gosling drive the proceedings effectively, with able support from the likes of Naomi Watts, Bob Hoskins, and Janeane Garofalo. Its dour, ultra-serious tone doesn’t do it any favors, but its rich cinematic style keeps it interesting; I particularly liked the visual effects for its scene transitions. My guess is that some viewers will grow impatient with it, but others will become absorbed. I liked it; a classy little film, well crafted and interesting.