The first time I saw it, I watched it with a hallmate back at MIT. When it was over, I felt this weight in my chest like I was deeply affected by the film, but at the same time I was utterly confused. I turned to my friend with a WT\m/ look. His response (at the risk of cryptic spoilage) was "It's Donnie Darko" "Huh?" "It's Donnie Darko" "Holy \m/ I get it now". And yes, that feeling of I'm affected but I don't understand is something these two films have in common. Donnie may be the better film, but Stay is certainly heavier.
Ryan Gosling is a young (and gorgeous in a gothic artsy loner style, long unkempt darker hair and all) art student, Henry. In meeting with his psychiatrist, Dr Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor), he reveals his intent to kill himself on his 21st birthday. Dr Foster knows suicide all too well, having rescued his artist girlfriend Lila (Naomi Watts) from her own attempt, and he tries everything in his power to dissuade the stubborn Henry.
As if the plot wasn't dark enough (hell, David Fincher almost directed it), it has a very surreal and dreamlike feel to it. Images are heightened. Symbolism sans explanation is blatantly hidden. Kind of like watching a David Lynch film, it gets less coherent as it pulls you further down the rabbit hole, and all you want is to make sense of everything. Just like Henry. And it does all make a beautiful and terrible sense if you can piece it all together. It certainly deserves at least one subsequent viewing to assemble the pieces once you have them all.