He Said: ‘Stay’ worth a second look | PostIndependent.com
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He Said: ‘Stay’ worth a second look

It might not be fair for me to reduce “Stay” to a star rating, because it was either one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, or I missed the point – or, possibly both.Even if the latter is true, I don’t feel bad about it, or at least not bad enough to rule out watching it again. It’s probably not giving up too much to suggest that “Stay” follows in the vein of “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Vanilla Sky” and (maybe) “Eyes Wide Shut,” and all four bewildered me at least a little. But both “Vanilla Sky” and “Eyes Wide Shut” left me with the feeling that, in addition to bewildering me, they ripped me off. “Stay,” on the other hand, beckoned me back from El Jebel as quickly as possible to look up the trivia on the Internet Movie Database for something that would explain the last 30 minutes.If it seems like I’ve invested a lot of confidence in a movie I didn’t actually get, part of that’s probably my fault. I recently confessed that William Gibson is one of my favorite authors despite (or maybe because) I literally have to read his books three or four times to understand what’s going on.Then again, part of the blame has to stay with director Marc Forster. He deserves credit for refusing to take the easier ways out by frightening the viewers witless with quick-cut scares or trying to set a creepy mood by having his characters comment on the weirdness around them. Instead, he builds atmosphere slowly. It’s not even creating tension so much as it is suggesting that something is very wrong. A suggestion to pay as close attention to what’s going on in the background as the foreground is a sound one.Only when Forster – or, more aptly, mental patient Henry Letham (actor Ryan Gosling) – maneuvers Dr. Sam Foster through the M.C. Escher (the surrealist – not one of the guys on “Yeah!”) backgrounds does “Stay” get heavy-handed.It’s easy to dismiss “Stay” as a stylish movie that’s full of technical tricks but ultimately hollow. And really, I’m still not 100 percent positive that it’s not. But Forster’s insistence on subtlety and innuendo instead of cheap, easy scares made me trust that the slight letdown I felt at the end meant that I maybe didn’t grasp something.”Stay” is worth seeing through to the end – maybe even more than I realize. Until I find out otherwise, I think it’s even worth exploring again.


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