The other night I watched the 2005 movie “Stay” with Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and some other guy (Ryan Gosling). The only reason I watched it is that so many people come to this site looking for an explanation of that movie. Unfortunately this movie has little to no plot and really doesn’t need an explanation in my view.
*** SPOILERS ***
The movie opens with a brutal car crash in which Ryan Gosling’s character is not hurt at all. This is your first clue that something is awry. If you’re like me you’ll have read the box the movie came in. The box says something to the effect of “you cannot stay in the world between life and death” so it’s a fairly small leap to assume that’s where the movie takes place. From here on out you’re in a dream world. Most people don’t get this until the end of the movie or until they watch it a second time.
The movie does have nice scene transitions, just like a dream. Characters walk from location to location as if they were teleported or were walking from a movie set to a movie set. This is just the director showing off and at the same time telling the viewer that this is a dream or taking place in the dream world between life and death. In other words, Ryan’s dying from the car crash, and this is what’s going through his mind right before he dies. There’s a lot of this but it’s all fairly obvious stuff and gets old after a while.
* Twins and triplets in the college lecture hall. Twins and triplets in a dream suggest duality.
* Bob Hoskins says “The buddists had it right, the world is an illusion”.
* Characters walk behind pillars and change direction
* Characters get confused for one another
* Characters change appearance.
* Sees his dead parents.
* Ewan falls down stairs (dream reference), then the previous scene (hamlet) is repeated
* Places morph into one another
* Giant seal (manatee?) in the aquarium, seals in dreams refer to playfullness and creativity?
* Naomi’s character helps Ewan in the dream world, just as she’s doing in the physical world.
* Ewan’s pants are too short. This I don’t know, probably something they threw in for ha-hahs.
* Raining – “dark clouds and a heavy downpour indicate feelings of isolation and helplessness”.
* Riding a train – indicates a shared experience.
The rest of the movie wanders on with nothing happening really. You might think stuff is happening based on the way the scenes are cut together but nope, there’s nothing happening.
Finally the movie ends with the predicted ending that everything you’ve just seen has taken place in the mind of the dying Ryan Gosling on the Brooklyn bridge. Again, it’s not a true logical movie in the sense of Primer. It’s just an artsy non-conclusive open to interpretation type thing that doesn’t tie up all the loose ends but leads you to suspect you missed something. You really didn’t. Thumbs down.
This movie could’ve been better though. If maybe they put Ryan’s character bare-foot denoting death?