Wookiee Hut Movie Reviews presents:
Review by Diana

Director: Marc Forster

Writer: David Benioff

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling, Bob Hoskins, Janeane Garofalo, B.D. Wong, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Gaston, Kate Burton

Rating: Squint got shields, 181st likes 'em

There are some stories and films that you pretty much can figure out because they follow an archetype or they are rip-offs of other tales. Those are clear from the very beginning, maybe given away by the title of a movie or its tagline. Stay's tagline: Between the worlds of the living and the dead there is a place you're not supposed to stay. Everyone rolls their eyes and they figure, "Oh, Sixth Sense ... or Poltergeist" ... or any number of occult and hauntings films.

But in the case of Stay, they'd be wrong ... the ending is a surprise, and rather disturbing. Yet reassuring, in a way. Though many thought it was a big "Oh, you've got to be kidding" moment.

The story unfolds in pieces which seem disjointed, like a detective story where the clues just don't add up. You might dismiss that as poor storytelling, but there is a point to all this. And the camerawork and acting is so absorbing that you don't mind being taken for the ride.

It's the story of a patient and a psychiatrist. The patient is suicidal and announces his intention to die at midnight this coming Saturday. The story is about the doctor's efforts to stop the suicide. It's depicted in the dark greenish light of a city late at night, for the most part.

Ewan MacGregor plays the doctor, Ryan Gosling the patient. One starts off sure, the other unsure, and the balance tips in the other direction as the movie goes on. The final question is, "What if one man's nightmare is another man's reality?"

I liked it, maybe because I love Ewan MacGregor in another Obi-wanesque role of a mentor who fails. (That seemed like a spoiler, I know ... but it isn't ...) I also love stories which use the real New York City as its backdrops, from Columbia University's campus to the psychedelic fountain in the garden at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, to the Brooklyn Bridge, and many seamy back alleys all over the city. It was a more dangerous place at one time, but now it's cleaner, safer, maybe even friendlier. I miss that other place.

I also like intelligent thrillers that aren't horror films. It seems people either thought this film was the worst thing ever, or thought it was brilliant. It's kind of goth — with all the pluses and minuses of that term — and it's billed as a psycho thriller. It's got a great cast, a good director, and a more than decent writer. But it suffered from a bad trailer and reviews by people who really didn't get it ... maybe it did go over everyone's head. Maybe audiences just aren't as bright or as angst-ridden as the filmmakers had hoped. Maybe depression is not as fashionable as it once was? Or maybe too much was made out of the concept of "stay"?

It's true that it could have been edited better ... and maybe the payoff left some people flat. Whatever ... it was a good thriller story without crossing into real horror, and it was a nice love story, in a psychedelic way, too. But it might have been better as a short story? Well, it's artsy with a bit of an art-house feel, which is cool if you're a certain kind of person. And did I mention Ewan is hot as a dorky, cute professor??

Images from movies.yahoo.com and todoelcine.com

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