Emil Woerner’s review published on Letterboxd:
Damn, can we talk about how Tarkovsky was obviously onto something? This may be my least favorite of his so far, and that’s not a knock on it, because I really enjoyed it a lot, even loved it by the finale, but this feels most like an experiment of all the films I’ve seen from him. I know it was shot while he was transitioning into exile, and I think it’s very fitting, but it feels like a reboot of his content, while a mastery of his style. Like he has to start coming up with stories set outside of the Soviet Union. Hey, I love the Antonioni and Rossellini films, and I’m not complaining that this is Tarkovsky’s La Notte or Journey to Italy, but I’m not used to seeing him flip to this style or aesthetic. I think it worked but it was rough at times. My biggest complaint comes at the pacing. I mean, this movie is slow as shit, and not like his others. At least the 2 hour 47 minute Solaris flows from act to act proportionately; this film gets confused and ambitious, and while that’s great for the content, it makes for a slow and occasionally boring experience. I also don’t 100% get what he was trying to say here, like if there’s a huge concept that goes deeper than exile and sex and love, but if so I missed it this time. I might catch it next time, because I’m not convinced I won’t be sitting through this a lot in the future. All of that being said, I think the script of this film is right up there with Stalker as one of his best. This is the film where he masters the long take, in some cases, shots will last over a five to ten minutes each. The flowing loose narrative is pretty excellently executed here for me, definitely building on what he got out of Mirror (albeit less effective). And this film easily ends with the best shot he’s ever captured on film. Actually, the last 20 minutes as a whole are awesome, and hard to look away from. God, I love this guy’s movies. I can’t believe it took me this long to see them all and I only have one left. That really sucks.