henry : i burned myself.
sam : you burned yourself? why?
henry : practicing for hell.

- stay

stay is the third movie written by the talented david benioff who wrote the highly underrated post 9/11 new york eulogy, 25th hour, and it is quite good. (benioff also wrote troy, but everyone has a bad day. i won't hold that against him.) stay is a movie about a young man named henry (ryan gosling) who is intent on killing himself by the weekend. saturday, at midnight, to be exact; 21 years from the date of his birth. sam (ewan mcgregor) is a psychiatrist, who takes up henry's case and becomes obsessed with trying to save him the way he saved his girlfriend, lila (naomi watts). henry wants to kill himself because he thinks he deserves it. he thinks he's going to hell, because of something he's done. but he doesn't want to die. he wants to be saved, ultimately. and sam can save him.

the movie has quite an interesting visual style, which seems a bit forced at first, but you soon ease into it. for example, this is the first time i've seen a movie start off from the point of view of a blown tire. the use of style in this movie is not there for its sake alone; it is actually the key in understanding the plot. the plot itself is quite involved, drawing in half a dozen characters that all seem to be going through their own tramas. the plot itself is very closed, in that it doesn't really want to reveal anything, save perhaps through the style of the movie.

the ending is an explanation but it only just touches the immense pain that henry has gone through. the ending itself is quite heartwrenching, not that you didn't see it coming, because you sort of do, but because of benioff's writing. he manages to write some incredible lines that are performed with just the right amount of desperation from ryan gosling to really give you a good sense of what henry wants and needs. it's like a kick in the gut.

in truth, i found my thoughts wandering through parts of the movie, sort of tiring of its almost too-involved sense of style, but benioff's dialogue would bring me back in. it wasn't until the ending that i finally thought, "ah, here we go. there's the heart of the story." i've seen other movies similar to this that have done it better, but all in all, the movie is quite good and worth checking out.