Director Marty Lang’s new film, a feature project supported by over 150 people via Seed & Spark called STAY WITH ME is a drama with a rich and diverse cast and crew that deals with the hefty themes of mental illness and loneliness. Anyone who has spent the better part of the last couple of years on their own due to the COVID pandemic will immediately identify with this movie.
Addison Turner plays Maya, and their charisma carries many of the scenes they’re in. James Mitchell Neal’s character Gavin has a soulfulness in his eyes that is difficult to turn away from. A fantastic performance by Lara Fox completes the trifecta of leads playing Katie, a character with undiagnosed bi-polar disorder who struggles with herself and the people in her life.
The movie is shot, lit, and sounds great for a low budget crowdfunded indie.
STAY WITH ME takes some very serious themes and makes them accessible. Dating, sex, commitment, death, friendships, and mental illness are all handled with a maturity that many contemporary directors working in mainstream film can’t seem to work towards.
The story begins with Katie entering into a new relationship with Gavin, who wants to keep things casual despite Katie’s need for connection. Her best friend Maya tries her best to help Katie hold it all together. The next scene is darker however, as we see that Katie is no longer in the picture, leaving Maya and Gavin to literally help each other go through Katie’s possessions and tie up the loose ends from her life. The film continues this back-and-forth coverage from Katie and Gavin’s evolving/devolving relationship and Gavin and Maya trying to deal with Katie’s loss.
The old adage says that “those who can’t, teach”, but Marty Lang is definitely the exception to the rule. Marty is a film professor who only seems to get better with every project he delivers. His co-writer on this project, Leaf Maiman gives STAY WITH ME’s characters a beating heart and dialogue that rings true.
Overall, from the perspective of low budget indie, this knocks it out of the park. There really isn’t too much outside of somewhat slow pacing that holds this film back.