Up until I volunteered to review the DVD release of Stay, I had never heard of the movie. I didn't know a thing about it until I popped it in and hit play. So now I'm going to tell you two things: One, it is worth watching. Two, do as I did and watch it without any spoilage. I'll do my best not to spoil the plot for you, but you'd be better off to quit reading now and just go buy/rent the movie.
Are you still here? Don't say I didn't warn you: Psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) agrees to take on a patient, a suicidal art student named Henry (Ryan Gosling), as a favor for a fellow doctor. Henry is as moody and withdrawn as you would expect a suicidal art student to be, even obnoxiously so, as he drops dark hints about the deaths of his parents. Dr. Foster would have treated Henry the same as any depressed patient, except odd things keep happening to the both of them, such as an accurate prediction of a hail storm, that pushes Sam to investigate his new patient more thoroughly. As he does, the odd things keep getting odder.
Stay is a movie that won me over in the last five minutes. It is one of those films that keeps you guessing, and while at one point I guessed the truth, I did not guess it all until it revealed itself. Up until that point, I was annoyed at the characters: McGregor's Sam seems like a nice guy, but he is shacking up with a patient (Naomi Watts) who tried to kill herself some time back. So while he seems decent, I don't completely trust his character. And Gosling's Henry: I mean come on, who wants to like a moody, suicidal art student? He's the type of person whom I want to encourage embrace death because he's so completely unlikable. I was also getting annoyed at the filmmakers' arty transitions between scenes. And then the last five minutes happen and everything changes, especially how I felt about Henry. I’ve said too much already; please just go watch Stay yourself. You may or may not like it, but for me, the ending suddenly makes everything clear. It’ll leave you thinking about it long after it’s over. I even watched it again just so I could go looking for some of the film’s more subtle clues.
I hope, if you are still reading, that you jumped down here simply to find out about the DVD itself. It's okay, but the damn tagline on the outside of the box is a spoiler. The disc itself is well-made with good sound and picture. This movie deserves both because the filmmakers worked hard at utilizing both sound and visuals to evoke - well dammit that's another spoiler. The disc comes with widescreen on one side and full screen on the other. Watch the widescreen or you will miss nifty stuff. Also the box doesn't mention it, but some extras are on one side and some are on the other.
The extras, however, are no big deal. They do include one extra of the type I’m super-fond of: a small documentary on a subject peripheral to the movie's story. Yes, discussing the subject matter of the featurette would be a spoiler. The DVD’s producers try something different with their filmmaker's commentary. Instead of having the moviemakers provide a commentary for the whole movie, which can be quite tedious, they simply have them talk about a few key scenes. In theory this sounds like a good idea but in reality on this DVD they still spend too much time blathering.
Stay is nothing new, but it is done well, particularly because of a good cast (Ewan's American accent, by the way, has improved a great deal) and a careful approach to making sure the jigsaw puzzle falls together completely. Like similar movies (The Sixth Sense, Memento, even Jacob's Ladder, to a certain extent) it pays to give the movie a second visit if only to see how well it fits. But heed my warning and walk into it not knowing what to expect. The film loses something if you know how it ends before it begins.