The Barenaked Archives: Stay

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

StayStay Away

It’s never, ever a good thing when you predict the end of a movie after the first shot. When, without any dialogue or anything, you just think, “Huh, I bet this is what’s going to happen.”

And then, despite 90+ minutes of movie in the middle trying to convince you otherwise, your first instinct turns out to be right on the money.

Stay is not a horror movie. Ignore the way the marketing is pushing it. Nothing even remotely frightening happens. It tries to bend and warp your mind so that within 15 minutes you just give up trying to figure out what’s going on, only to, at the very end, revert to what’s probably the most clichéd and lazy ending in writing history.

In Stay, Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) is a psychiatrist whose deeply disturbed patient Henry (Ryan Gosling) has just said that he plans to commit suicide Saturday at midnight. Sam is desperate to stop him, but he’s slowly coming to realize that Henry may know more about what is “real” than Sam.

No, it’s not a good plot synopsis, but it’s impossible to sum up this movie because it doesn’t make any sense for most of the runtime. If, in order to maintain your sanity while watching it, you decide to accept that this doesn’t take place in anything resembling our reality, then congratulations, you’ve figured it out.

It wouldn’t be so frustrating if it weren’t for the fact that the movie spends the majority of its runtime screwing with your sense of logic and going nowhere in the process. The only thing pushing the movie along is the fact that it’s stuck together with the visual equivalent of chewing gum.

Yes, the cinematography is cool and is the best part of the movie. The way it almost melts between scenes just heightens the sense that something completely warped is happening. Sadly, that’s what occupies most of your attention in the film. Only occasionally do the powers that be deign to remind us of the plot: “Oh yeah, our protagonist is trying to stop somebody from committing suicide.”

Emotional investment in the characters would’ve helped out. Actually caring about what was happening to them and why it was happening would’ve helped out a lot.

After about thirty minutes, thought, it becomes obvious that it is nigh impossible to care any less about these people and what they’re going through. Ewan McGregor looks appropriately confused, Naomi Watts looks appropriately worried, and Ryan Gosling looks appropriately insane. It’s a pity because I know that all three are very talented actors.

And ultimately, that was the problem at the end of the film. Never mind that I’d had the story pegged from frame one or that the first half was as futile as running on a hamster wheel.

It was the fact that, once everything was said and done and explained as best as it was going to get, only one thought crossed my mind: “Why do I care?” Nothing that happened drew out even an iota of empathy, meaning that by the end, twist or no, it was not possible to care.

Do as the title suggests and avoid this movie. Trust me, you can wait till it’s on HBO.

Advertisements

One comment on “The Barenaked Archives: Stay

  1. for some reason i have no desire to watch this movie. thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s