Stay (2005 film)

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Stay film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMarc Forster
Produced byArnon Milchan
Written byDavid Benioff
StarringEwan McGregor
Naomi Watts
Ryan Gosling
Music byAsche & Spencer
CinematographyRoberto Schaefer
Edited byMatt Chessé
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
September 24, 2005 (2005-09-24) (Rio)
October 21, 2005 (2005-10-21)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$50 million
Box office$8.48 million[1]

Stay is a 2005 American psychological thriller directed by Marc Forster and written by David Benioff. It stars Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling and Bob Hoskins, with production by Regency and distribution by 20th Century Fox. The film represents intense relationships centering on reality, death, love and the afterlife. Although receiving mixed reviews upon release, the film eventually developed a cult following.


The film opens with a car crash on the Brooklyn Bridge, and introduces Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling), a survivor of the crash, sitting, unharmed, next to a burning car on the bridge.

Psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) and his girlfriend (and former patient), Lila (Naomi Watts) are then introduced in a new scene. Sam discusses his patient, Henry, a college student and aspiring artist whom he describes as depressed and paranoid, with feelings of guilt and remorse over having 'set fire to' his car at the beginning of the film. Henry mentions that he sometimes hears voices, and seems able to predict future events. Henry is also suspicious of Sam because he had suddenly been called to stand in for his regular psychiatrist, Beth Levy (Janeane Garofalo). Henry has told Sam of his plans to kill himself that Saturday at midnight. Lila, who has survived a past suicide attempt, offers to help to dissuade Henry from killing himself.

Sam investigates Henry's circumstances and, after repeatedly attempting to reach Dr. Levy, he comes to her apartment to find her disoriented and lethargic, mumbling incoherent phrases like "I didn't touch him; I know you're not supposed to move them," occasionally belittling Sam with a maudlin reference to an implied unresolved tension between the two, and the fact that she's aware that he's dating an ex-patient. Henry, who had earlier claimed to have killed both of his parents, has his account contradicted by Sam when he finds Henry's mother (Kate Burton) and her dog living in a bare house, confused about Sam's identity (she insists that he is Henry) and refusing to respond to his questions. Henry's mother insists on feeding Sam, but when she opens the fridge it is completely empty. Her head starts bleeding and when Sam attempts to help her, her dog bites him.

At the clinic, whilst having his dog-bitten arm treated, Sam discusses the visit with a present police officer (Michael Gaston) who is curious as to why he would visit that house. Sam explains what happened, but the police officer tells him that he had attended the funeral for the woman who lived there several months ago. This seems to send Sam into a fugue in which the same scene and dialogue is repeated several times.

Later, Sam contacts a waitress named Athena (Elizabeth Reaser), with whom Henry has mentioned that he had fallen in love. She is an aspiring actress and he meets her at a script reading where she is reading lines from Hamlet with another man. She agrees to take him to Henry, but after a long trip down winding staircases he loses her. When he gets back to the rehearsal room, she is there reading the same lines as when he first encountered her.

The search continues until 11:33 pm on Saturday, less than half an hour before Henry plans to kill himself. At a bookshop known to have been frequented by Henry, Sam finds a painting that Henry had painted and bartered for books about Henry's favorite artist. He learns that the artist killed himself on the Brooklyn Bridge on his twenty-first birthday. Henry's twenty-first birthday is Sunday, and Sam realizes that Henry plans to commit suicide on the Brooklyn Bridge in imitation of the artist.

Sam finds Henry on the Brooklyn Bridge in a physical atmosphere (fog-like) that is increasingly unraveling. After failing to dissuade Henry, Sam turns away as Henry puts the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger.

The car crash of the first scene is then reprised. Henry was fatally wounded in the crash but, in his last moments, is suffering survivor guilt. Each of the characters introduced earlier in the film was in fact a random spectator at the site of the crash, including Sam (a doctor), and Lila (a nurse), who treat Henry in an attempt to save him. The brief remarks they make are the same ones heard previously by their counterparts earlier. They fail to rescue Henry, and Henry dies, but not before seeing Lila as Athena and proposing to her, which Lila accepts out of sympathy.

The entire film up until Henry's death had perhaps existed only in his mind during his last moments. However, there are clues that the people surrounding Henry as he lay dying were actually drawn into another world in some way. For instance, after Henry dies and is being loaded into a body bag, Beth Levy's counterpart is heard telling her name to the police as Elizabeth Levy. Since Henry died before hearing this, he would have no way of knowing how to "dream" her true name. Additionally, before parting, Sam appears to get a flash in his mind of the experiences and asks Lila out for coffee.


Visual style[edit]

Marc Forster's directorial style is artistic, referencing many other films including Vertigo. Details such as the length of a character's trousers and what he is wearing on his feet are significant, too. Forster has spoken of the film's stylistic link to the films of Nicolas Roeg as there are what appear to be continuity mistakes, which are in fact tied into the plot.[2]


The film was a massive box office failure, with a domestic gross of $3,626,883 and a foreign gross of $4,856,914, making a total worldwide gross of $8,483,797; it didn't come close to making up for its estimated budget of $50,000,000.[3][1]

Critical reaction to Stay was mixed. The film holds a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes[4] and 41 out of 100 on Metacritic.[5] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3½ stars out of four, saying, "The ending is an explanation, but not a solution. For a solution we have to think back through the whole film, and now the visual style becomes a guide. It is an illustration of the way the materials of life can be shaped for the purposes of the moment."[6] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also praised the film, awarding it three stars out of four and saying, "Some people find this twisty and twisted psychological thriller arty and pretentious. I find it arty and provocative."[7]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave Stay 2½ stars out of four, calling it "interesting" but finding it "hard to recommend to anyone but the small cadre of David Lynch devotees who will inhale anything with a whiff of similarity to their favorite auteur's scent."[8] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C", praising the "profuse imagery" but ultimately feeling it to be "a tepid film" with "flat characters" and "anchorless performances".[9]

Many critics had far more negative assessments. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post panned the film, calling it "a trite, incoherent and pretentious bomb."[5] Rex Reed of The New York Observer wrote, "This is the kind of flop that makes even the popcorn taste lousy."[10] Andrew O'Hehir wrote in Salon, "A lot of talent gets expended in Stay. (I'm not including whoever dressed McGregor.) Too bad the movie they made, while effective in short spurts, is almost a complete waste of time.[11] Michael Booth wrote in The Denver Post, "What's this movie about?" and added, "Stay goes nowhere for far too long, then tries to go everywhere in just a couple of final moments. I can’t tell you how they try to explain it, in part because that would give away what little satisfaction the movie holds, and in part because I have no blooming idea.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stay (2005) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Marc Forster Q&A". Timeout London. 2006-03-01. Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Stay Movie Reviews, Pictures Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ a b Stay (2005): Reviews Metacritic
  6. ^ Stay :: :: Reviews Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, October 21, 2005
  7. ^ Stay : Review Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, Oct 19, 2005
  8. ^ Review: Stay James Berardinelli, ReelViews, 2005
  9. ^ Stay (Movie - 2005) | Movie Review Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
  10. ^ "Rex Reed". Observer.
  11. ^ "Movies". Salon.
  12. ^ Booth, Michael (Oct 19, 2005). "What's This Movie About". Denver Post. Stay goes nowhere for far too long, then tries to go everywhere in just a couple of final moments.

External links[edit]