When it comes to challenges, director Marc Forster isn't one to walk away. Forster is the man responsible for such critical darlings as Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball. The films themselves are complete polar opposites, but challenging nonetheless. In his latest film, Forster finds himself another challenge as he delves into the world of psychiatry.
Ewan McGregor stars as Sam Foster, a brilliant young psychiatrist who seems to have the perfect life with his beautiful girlfriend and ex-patient Lila (Naomi Watts). Sam's life changes when he substitutes for a colleague on the case of Henry Lethem (Ryan Gosling), an art student who is flirting with the idea of committing suicide. The more Sam digs into the case, the more he finds the case intriguing, almost to the point of obsession.
The case starts to consume his life and he will stop at nothing to stop Henry. Is there more to this case than meets the eye? Is this prominent psychiatrist on the right track? What are the keys to Henry's life?
Stay is one of those movies that is brilliant on paper but not so much once it's on screen. The film's central storyline is intriguing, as through the psychiatrist's eyes we start to see Henry's life and Sam's desperation to save him. This is also brilliantly accented by the doctor having an ex-patient as a lover.
The major problem with the film is that there is so much more being forced into it. The moody atmosphere is typical with this kind of film, but feels overly heavy. The intricate and interesting editing, while fascinating, is way too distracting. Then there is the last 40 minutes, which seem almost like the film couldn't settle on a finale in reality so they had to tack on a twist ending.
The performances from McGregor, Watts, and Gosling are superb, but this amount of talent needed a stronger film. The film should have been more about these three than what the ending supports.
I have to give Marc Forster credit for taking risks, but unlike his previous films, this film's script and concept seems lost to Forster. Films like Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball rely on the strength of script coupled with performance. Stay has the performances but not the script or foundation to support them. (1.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.