Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
A writer and a scientist hire a guide to take them through an eerie forbidden zone to a strange place where desires are granted in this science-fiction drama directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. In Russian with English subtitles.
This is the fifth feature film to be directed by Andrei Tarkovsky: his first film since his most personal work The Mirror and it is his first science-fiction film since Solaris released earlier in this decade – and the final product is a very decent one.
Here, this science-fiction movie sees the film set in an unnamed country at an unspecified time. There is a post-apocalyptic wasteland known as The Zone.
Aleksandr Kajdanovsky gives a very good performance in his role as the title character Stalker, an illegal guide who takes a writer and a scientist into the area, despite his mutant child suggesting nasty things will happen.
They all arrive at a mythical place called The Room, where anyone who enters The Room will have their wishes granted. Aleksandr Kajdanovsky suits his role really well and could have not played the part any better.
Elsewhere, there are fine supporting performances to be had from Anatoliy Solonitsyn as the writer and Nikolay Grinko as the scientist.
The direction from is Tarkovsky very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a mostly pleasant atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by the director and Boris and Arkady Strugatsky as they make the movie good to follow.
The set, camera and visual effects stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, because the set is decent to look at; the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense and dramatic moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status; the visual effects dazzle whenever they appear on the screen.
The only criticism I would give the film would the pace, as I feel that this can be a little slow at times, so I don’t think the duration needed to be as long as it was.
Overall, Stalker is one enjoyable science-fiction film from Andrei Tarkovsky, due to his direction and co-written script, along with the very good and central performance from Aleksandr Kajdanovsky and technical aspects. The only downside being the pace and duration.