The steadily affecting relationship drama "Stay" is a great example of how a film can rise above its terrible dialogue. So many phrases out of characters' mouths are as overused and flavorless as a thrice-steeped tea bag, and yet a sturdy narrative structure, increasing thematic complexity and finely detailed performances from Aidan Quinn and Taylor Schilling make writer-director Wiebke von Carolsfeld's sophomore effort an agreeably pensive experience.
An unwanted pregnancy jeopardizes the already shaky May-September romance between disgraced professor Dermot (Quinn) and adventurous backpacker Abby (Schilling). Dermot decided long ago that he'd make a terrible father. Meanwhile, Abby fears being tied down in the tiny Irish village that she intended to be merely a pit stop during her travels.
After Dermot proposes (while making perfectly clear he doesn't want their child), Abby returns home to Montreal to visit her father (Michael Ironside) and to decide who belongs in her future. Back in Ireland, Dermot slowly warms to the idea of parenthood by befriending bored truant Sean (Barry Keoghan) and single mother Deirdre (Nika McGuigan), who gives birth to her baby in the same bed where her mother's dead body lies.
These vibrant subplots are more moving than Dermot's relationship with Abby, partly because the central couple is separated for too long and partly because Quinn radiates a grizzly, self-deprecating big-heartedness that proves irresistible.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills. Also on VOD.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times