Tim’s review published on Letterboxd:
Stalker sure took a toll on the poor guy because, jeez, Nostalghia is one bleak, dour, and lonely film, even by Tarkovsky's standards. While his films have always had a personal edge to them, none of them, aside from Mirror, have seemed as near and dear, nor as self-reflective, as Nostalghia.
Nostalghia feels more difficult to pinpoint than many of Tarkovsky's other films, though there is a clear line of intersection between his personal life and the narrative at hand. It's fitting that Tarkovsky would direct a film about the woes of homesickness and nationalism for his first feature length directed outside of the Soviet Union. Having dedicated the film to the memory of his mother and prominently featuring his father's poetry, the mark of Tarkovsky's personal life feels ever so present throughout. Naming the main character "Andrei" helps as well.
Maybe it was a result of his declining health but I'm charmed by how restraint Nostalghia feels, especially in comparison to some of his more essential works. It lacks a more clearly defined narrative arc that something like Stalker has, but the themes of isolation and longing feel more emotionally resonant, partially by virtue of relatability. Also makes you feel like utter shit since the film doesn't exactly end on a cheery note.
Nostalghia might lack the more spectacular ideas of Solaris or Stalker but it feels more character driven and down to earth than his earlier efforts. While not quite my favourite Tarkovsky, it's a worthy installment in his filmography and one that I suspect I will appreciate more with time. Perhaps, Nostalghia isn't the cinematic triumph that some would expect, rather a more quiet and intimate film. I still feel that it is very much essential in that it offers quite a bit of insight into Tarkovsky, not just as a director, but as a human being.