Sally Jane Black’s review published on Letterboxd:
I can't help but think that I would follow every rule the Stalker gave me just to get to the Room. My deepest darkest desires fulfilled, what fantasies return again and again to me, I would fight for these, I would walk whatever line they made me walk. A healthy, happy world is worth the price of following a few rules, even if I do not necessarily understand them. The toxic ideas of freedom set forth by slave owners and rapists have left a legacy of lies in our nation wherein we constantly strive to be "free" while being held in--and reinforcing--chains of poverty, sickness, and violence; this idea that we should have the right to hate-speech or private property because of a lie told to keep the working classes from taking their guns against the rich white men who didn't want to pay taxes just holds us back. It's so easy to claim that the Soviets didn't have freedom of expression, despite all evidence to the contrary. It's the bogeyman that keeps us from demanding our rights to more important things, like healthcare, jobs, housing, food. I've never had freedom. I'd merrily relinquish it to a steady guide in favor of healthcare. "Give me estrogen or give me death" is a much more potent rallying cry; it has the merit of being accurate and possible on both sides of its equation.
It almost seems like arrogance to add my words to the mountain of praise this film has received for its craft. The rush of water envelops the three men as they move through the Dry Tunnel, even as light spills over them, giving an open-air feeling visually and a claustrophobic one aurally. Grime and decay strew across the Meat Grinder, like a dank sewer in the middle of nowhere. The sepia-toned outer realms, like a memory beyond the edge of reality. The footfalls echoing in narrow passages. The somehow imposing greenery tinged with grey. Tarkovsky's art is image and sound constructed with the intention of feeling. His films are alive with emotion, from the frustrations of the Stalker's wife to the eeriness of the final shot to the fever dreams of the Stalker in the Zone rivebeds, from the grimness of the industrial wastes to the glacial klaxon-panic of the chase into the Zone. The only explanations we're given are for character or philosophy; the Zone is never truly understood. The most we get of the traps are inexplicable twists in reality, never gore, never harm. What this is intended as a commentary on is irrelevant; to me this resonates as to my own fears of the unknown, to what held me back before, to what holds me back now. This is in every frame of this film.