A review of “Stay” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *

Rating: R for language and violent images

Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

 

 

Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit. Director Marc Forster, who showed such promise with “Monster’s Ball” and “Neverland”, combines an A-list cast and potentially surreal suspense into a virtual train wreck of a movie.

A poorly miscast Ewan McGregor (think monotone accent and ridiculously short pants) is Sam Foster, a flaccid psychiatrist with a live-in love (Naomi Watts as struggling artist Lila Culpepper) and a superficial career.

Until the day that fine arts student Henry Lethem (Ryan Gosling) walks into his office and declares that he intends to kill himself on his twenty-first birthday. Saturday at midnight to be exact.

Foster flies into a tizzy, moving from professional interest to personal obsession with dramatic alacrity and chasing Henry hither and yon to put a stop to his dastardly deed. With the age old wisdom of thrillers at his beck and call – all is not as it seems – Foster endures bloody apparitions, encounters the dead, and re-lives the black edges of the past until he is very very confused. As was I.

“Stay” is set to an architect’s wet dream of glass and steel; a kinetic world of sharp edges and anxious emotion. As the players bounce from image to image the stage is set for an irrational twist with a capital T. A fractured variation that left me yearning for the parking lot. Dialogue is a conversational black hole and the scheming score a hodgepodge of ominous humming and discordant buzzing.

A couple of hours in the dark with Ryan Gosling used to do it for me; no more. Gosling sleepwalks through this abstract labyrinth, re-hashing his bad-boy ways with nary an effort. McGregor doesn’t cut it an identity-challenged shrink and Watts needs a new agent, stat. 

Janeane Garofalo owns her 90-second cameo as a whacked-out analyst on the road to nervous breakdown but bottom line “Stay” screams stay away.