“Stay” is a film that can and should be reviewed. Moreover, you will have to revise it in the event that you do not read spoilers before the first viewing, because the whole essence of the picture is revealed only in its last minutes. Although the film grossed just $8 million worldwide on a budget of $50 million, many critics call it one of the most underrated film projects of the 2000s.
What is the meaning of Stay?
So, to begin with, we will briefly explain what is the whole point of the plot of this film, if you find yourself here exactly in search of such an explanation. All the events that unfold on the screen are the products of the dying brain of the protagonist a few moments before his death. A world created by reason, saturated with feelings and memories, not obeying the usual laws and, nevertheless, functioning properly in its own way.
If you look closely at the faces of the people surrounding Henry in the final shots of the picture, you will recognize in them all the key characters you have seen before. The inflamed mind of a dying guy clings to these faces, to these images, and uses them to create its own story, which has nothing to do with reality.
The endless feelings of guilt, talk of suicide, and the repeated phrase “forgive me” are all references to the fact that he was the one who was driving the car at the time of the accident. For the same reason, blood is shed from the head of Henry’s mother (the Henry who exists in the universe created by his own consciousness), as well as from the head of the guy himself. And, of course, hence the combination of love and unbearable longing, tragedy and hopelessness with which we are told about Athena (again, in an imaginary world).
“Henry, look around. If this is a dream, then the whole world is contained in it, ”says Sam Foster a few moments before the protagonist’s“ suicide ”, which means his return from the world of woven illusions to reality. In other words, the meaning of the plot practically lies on the surface, just during the first viewing it can be difficult to immediately grasp and understand it.
As for the relationship between Sam and Lila, the echoes of which they feel real after the death of Henry, who in his imagination united them with strong love, this can be interpreted as something like fate or fate. Sometimes we see people, and it seems to us that they are literally made for each other. And they themselves, perhaps, also feel this invisible thread that bound their destinies even before they actually met.
In general, this moment regarding Sam and Lila is the only somewhat “fantastic” component of the plot of the film “Stay”. Everything else is not a fantasy, but a story about feelings that engulf a dying person, realizing that his most beloved and dear people died in a few minutes for him. Surely you, too, sometimes think over some scenarios in your head, introduce characters, “live” with them some plots. The world in Henry’s head is something from this area, it is thoughts, pain and despair, not a parallel dimension or a break in the space-time continuum. This is the piercing tragedy of an ordinary person, shown from within his soul.
Love is endless and non-existent
Henry and Athena’s relationship is one of the central plot lines of Stay. This is love that will disappear with the last breath of Henry, who lived for a few moments longer than his failed bride. This is love, permeating all his consciousness and his essence, making him suffer and feel unbearable pain: after all, happiness was so close, because everything was possible, because his feelings were mutual, and everything should have been completely different. But this couple will not have a marriage proposal, a wedding, buying a house, having children and the like – the story of her existence will end on the bloody asphalt, and her memories will disappear immediately after the last flashes of Henry’s consciousness fade away.
In the fantasies of the protagonist, Athena is not with him, but he only watches her from the sidelines, because he knows: if they were not together, she would not have died in this accident. Of course, such reasoning is illogical and irrational, since such things cannot be foreseen, and one does not follow from the other – it is just a coincidence. But in such a situation, it is impossible not to blame yourself and not want everything to happen differently, albeit at the cost of your own love.
The recurring scene that Sam Foster returns to – Athena rehearsing the role of Hamlet – is probably one of Henry’s most vivid memories. Perhaps it was when looking at this picture that he finally realized that he had fallen in love with her. Or it was then that he wanted to connect his fate with her. However, the specifics are not so important here: the only thing that matters is that this moment in the history of Athena and Henry for some reason he remembered more than others.
Parents: always important, always necessary
Parents are special people in every person’s life. Their love and love for them is something unconditional and indispensable, but no less important and significant from this. For every person who has more or less good relationships with their parents (and Henry has them just like that), their presence in life makes it brighter, safer and more protected. They are a support that is sometimes not realized, but is always felt as a kind of buffer of warmth, comfort and love, which you can turn to at any moment of time.
Henry’s visit to matter does not give Sam, who is part of this fictional world, the answers he needs. And the more painful for Henry because, simultaneously with the loss of his beloved, he also loses his mother and father. It is, in the literal sense of the word, a blow in the gut, knocking the ground out from under his feet and making the already dire condition of the dying organism even more unbearable. Actually, we see this shock, this tragedy and this misunderstanding of what happened in the scenes of the world created by his consciousness, one way or another connected with his parents.
Someone who can’t help
Evan McGregor in this film got perhaps the most difficult and controversial role: he plays a kind of embodiment of the instinct of self-preservation. The element that, without knowing it, is trying to keep Henry within the confines of a fictional world, where he can feel more relaxed than in the terrifying outside world. Why exactly he, and why exactly Laila kept him company, is understandable – they were the ones who mostly tried to help the dying guy. Their images became the prototypes of those who would protect and support Henry, who at one point lost all protection and support in his life.
However, it is clear that this cannot continue indefinitely. The main character was too badly damaged, and he must die. But, importantly, he must die in consciousness: in the awareness of all his tragedy, guilt and pain, and not in the dreams of a world created by the imagination, where he could theoretically isolate himself from part of his suffering. Therefore, in this world, he puts a pistol in his mouth and pulls the trigger, and in the real world, he raves, seeing Athena instead of Leila, and makes her an offer that he did not have time to make. By adding this artless illusion to reality, he feels calmer and completes his life path, leaving this world and all its possibilities to someone else.