There are movies that pull the rug out from under their audiences in the very last moments, and in doing so reveal that much of what we have just seen was actually an illusion. Then there are movies that pull the rug out from under their audiences somewhere in the middle, thus giving us, and the characters, time to come to terms with what the relationship between reality and illusion depicted in these films might mean. And then there are movies that don't have a rug in the first place. These movies let you know that their characters inhabit an unreal world, and so you patiently sit through two hours of puzzle pieces bumping up against each other and failing to fit together, and you wait for that moment at the end when the penny will drop, the pieces will fit, and illusion will give way to reality. Surprise twist endings are a dime a dozen, so these films remove the surprise.
Stay belongs to this last group. It begins with a car accident on the Brooklyn Bridge, after which we see a young man, Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling), walk away from the burning wreckage and up to the camera. Suddenly Henry's face is replaced by that of the psychologist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor), moments before he rises out of bed. Why are the faces linked in such a way, in this scene and others? Do the men share a psychic bond? Is one a figment of the other's imagination? One thing's for sure—something's fishy, something about the proceedings is not exactly real, and the film compels us to ask such questions through its use of peculiar camera angles and digitally enhanced edits.
In fact, the film starts with a string of strange, disorienting images. The car accident is seen from the perspective of one of the tires, and when Sam wakes up, the camera ...1
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