Stay sprawls

STAY (Wiebke von Carolsfeld). 99 minutes. Opens Friday (March 14). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN

This adaptation of Aislinn Hunter’s novel is highly attuned to the inner lives of its protagonists, all of them forced to confront anxieties over parenthood and genetic determinism in the course of the story.

But Stay belabours trivial plot points, is overburdened with incident and deploys more characters than it can possibly develop. It lacks momentum – not necessarily a problem in literature but something that can sap a movie’s energy.

Dermot (Aidan Quinn) is an archaeology professor who, fleeing scandal, adopts a quiet life on Ireland’s west coast. Abby (Taylor Schilling), his younger Canadian girlfriend, moves in with him. Beer, crisps and Abby’s presence are all Dermot wants, but Abby’s less content with stasis.

She gets pregnant, but he’s against kids a rift opens up. Abby spends most of Stay in Montreal, where she reconnects with her dad (Michael Ironside) and comes to terms with her errant mother’s legacy. Dermot stays home, where his sulking is interrupted by another young pregnant woman, a pot-addled teenager, and the discovery of artifacts in some local mud.

Writer/director Wiebke von Carolsfeld (Marion Bridge) could have distanced herself from her busy source material to focus on what flies cinematically.

Still, much in Stay resonates emotionally, and that may finally trump its narrative unevenness.

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