‘Stay’ stalls

Endings – in the world of cinema, filmmakers are more concerned with concocting a shocking finale than the rest of the product. There are films such as The Sixth Sense and The Machinist that offer unique shockers but don’t skimp on the rest of the screenplay. Stay severely lacks character development, which leaves the audiences disconnected to their outcomes.

The movie biggest compliment is that it will leave viewers asking questions and wondering exactly what had passed. The downside is that the flawed development will leave as many people scratching their heads in confusion.

Dealing with the world of reality is a difficult task for many filmmakers to tackle, but director Marc Foster infuses style and philosophy with his latest thriller. The only shame is that the results are rather mediocre.

The film is grounded by strong performances from Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling, who play perfectly off one another. Stay succeeds in keeping the audience guessing as to what is coming next with bizarre camera angles and repetitive scenes.

Naomi Watts is fantastic as a counterbalance between McGregor and Gosling, granting each of the lead characters stability in a world where reality is distorted.

Sam Foster (McGregor) is a psychiatrist whose entire life changes when he is introduced to Henry Letham (Gosling). Henry is a college student contemplating suicide; he’s regretful of a past sin he’s too afraid to admit. Sam is so tormented by the boy’s impending fate that girlfriend Lila (Watts) is worried about his own health. Lila owes her life to Sam, who helped her find a reason for living. Sam is given three days to unravel the mystery behind this troubled teen or his death will lie on his conscience. Throughout the course of the film, its characters are drawn closer as the film reaches its dramatic conclusion.

Watts, McGregor and Gosling are an exquisite ensemble who do their best with the underdeveloped material. Stay stirs attention with a surprising performance from comedian Janeane Garofalo.

Foster transitions from one scene to another seamlessly. The acclaimed director of Finding Neverland and Monster’s Ball stumbles with a movie created on a foundation of half-cooked ideas. Stay is a solid effort for the director as the film just slightly leavities above sub-par genre fluff.

David Benioff produced a story with more plot holes than innovations. Benioff, coming off the Hollywood flop Troy adds another blemish to his fairly new resume.

Another flaw in the film is its absence of provocative dialogue as most of what the characters have to say is redundant or cliched. Had more time been spent furthering the script, Stay could have risen above the cloud of mediocrity that shrouds the latest Hollywood films.

But in the end, what one is left with is wasted talent, flashy special effects and promising screenplay. Stay struggles for a buzz-worthy climax, leaving the rest of the film to hang on these final moments.

Rating: C-


Ewan McGregor

Breakout Role: Renton in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. Trainspotting is the story of Renton’s escape from the dreary drug scene that had taken over his life. While the role never won McGregor a big commercial paycheck, it gained him critical praise and in the process turned the young thespian into a star.

Worst Move: Failing to acknowledge that the new Star Wars prequels are simply nowhere near as daring as the originals.

Films not to be missed: McGregor has a generous share of hits such as Moulin Rouge, Big Fish and Velvet Goldmine.

Upcoming projects: Gnomeo and Juliet, an animated fare co-starring Kate Winslet and Judi Dench, but this flick won’t be hitting theaters until 2008.

Naomi Watts

Breakout Role: The dual roles of Betty and Diane in David Lynch’s thriller Mulholland Drive, which won the actress numerous critical awards. In the film, Watts plays both ends of the emotional spectrum, being naïve and hopeful in the beginning, but becoming deranged and depressed by the time Lynch’s twisted film had run its course.

Worst Move: Being associated with the dreadful Ring Two. Not too far behind is the fiasco that was Le Divorce, a mangled romantic-comedy.

Films not to be missed: Her film repertoire includes such favorites as 21 Grams, We Don’t Live Here Anymore and The Assassination of Richard Nixon.

Upcoming projects: Watts has a full slate with starring roles in this year’s Ellie Parker and Peter Jackson’s eagerly anticipated King Kong remake. In time for the 2006 award season, Watts will co-star with Edward Norton in The Painted Veil.

Ryan Gosling

Breakout Role: Gosling garnered attention playing in 2004’s sob-fest The Notebook. He plays a lover trying to make his aging partner, who has become ill with Alzheimer’s disease, constantly remember him.

Worst Move: Playing the title role in The United States of Leland. The movie is filled with half-cooked ideas and philosophies that leave its A-list cast without much to say.

Films not to be missed: Gosling resume includes Murder By Numbers and Remember the Titans.

Upcoming projects: Next up for Gosling is The Last Face with Robin Wright-Penn and a biopic on the late Argentinean revolutionary Che starring alongside Bencio Del Toro.

-Pablo Saldana