To assist an exhausted colleague, psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) begins treating a patient, Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling). Henry is obsessed with his idol's infamous suicide and plans on shooting himself the moment he turns 21, in three days. Sam does everything to track down Henry and prevent him from harming himself, but Sam is gradually drawn into the world of Henry's obsessions.

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Emotionally it winds up a one-note symphony.

Stay is German director Marc Forster's third American film, after Monster's Ball (2001) and Finding Neverland (2004). In spite of the Oscars and critical acclaim his previous Stateside efforts have received, Stay is perhaps his most interesting film to date, though it may not garner the same accolades or box office success he is used to given its subject matter. Stay is a psychodrama that examines mental illness, depression, death and delusion (told you).

Scottish actor Ewen McGregor gives a fine, bewildered performance as Sam Foster, a New York psychiatrist relieving an exhausted colleague (Janeane Garofalo). In her absence he treats one of her patients, Henry, (the amazing Ryan Gosling), a disturbed young student plagued by guilt, 'daylight hallucinations', fixated on ending his life in just a few days time. While the race is on to stop him, Sam also begins to suffer from similar delusions and visions, seemingly sliding into Henry's pathology. Naomi Watts gives another pitch-perfect performance as artist Lila, Sam's girlfriend, a woman also well-versed in depression and suicidal tendencies.

As the story progresses the visual certainty of what we are watching also frays away, with little surrealist touches creeping into the frame as Sam slips from what he knows into what he doesn't. If Stay sounds like Fight Club you'd be right as they share a number of similarities. Both investigate perceptions of reality, and the bounds between madness and sanity. Both brim with slick contemporary design (Stay is a NY architect's wet dream). There is a dual reality scenario at the heart of the story, and both possess aggressively choreographed sound designs and visual effects, although visually Stay is more abstract. Only Fight Club was a dark comedy and a lot more fun, and there is nothing funny about Stay which is a full-blown drama.

It is penned by the supremely talented David Benioff who wrote the novel The 25th Hour, which he adapted to the screen for director Spike Lee. Benioff has a knack for creating excellent, economic dialogue and Forster for prompting great performances from his uniformly excellent casts. On those terms the union here is fruitful. Unfortunately Stay is cold. The coolness in its design ultimately restricts the emotional reach of the material (which is inherently sad and melancholy), instead of enhancing it. A little more variation in its emotional texture might have made it more affective.

In spite of all of the care and attention to detail, emotionally it winds up a one-note symphony. Making it mostly a frosty film instead of the sad one it should have been. It does have a moving resolution however, but you really have to wait for it, which may be too much for some.