Tony (tectactoe)’s review published on Letterboxd:
The main question being asked here: do your conscious "wants" align with your true subconscious desires? It's simple to understand but impossible to answer. E.g. a man can say aloud that he wants nothing more than for his brother to be cured of some disease, but what if his deepest desire is actually insurmountable wealth? STALKER is a film that ponders if what we wish for is actually what we want. And would our wishes, thoughts, and desires be different in front of an audience who should judge us vs. complete solitude with no repercussions? Meditative by nature, STALKER is in no hurry to arrive at any answers, but is beautifully formed in its plodding journey. The gold-filtered depictions of the outer-edges of life are breathtaking (as are the purposely downtrodden set pieces) and formally compliment scenes within the Zone; rich in both color and life, Tarkovsky has a way of framing unspeakable beauty from things as banal as mounds of sand or a waterlogged underground tunnel. The Stalker is a man of faith, the Professor a man of science, and the Writer a man of the arts. Their personal wants, needs, and desires within the Zone and the Room are spectrum-spanning on the surface, but all carry the same basic twist of hesitation underneath—do we, as humans, really want to know what we want? Or would we rather spout off more noble and selfless desires in an effort to fool others (and our own selves) that we're fundamentally "good" people? And at the end of the day, is it wrong to want something that's not entirely altruistic? STALKER wears me down with about one or two too many pointed philosophical monologues (worst offender being the wife who's actually looking directly into the camera as she speaks to, presumably, the audience) and, in their absence, could have easily been an 80+ film for me. And it might be, with future revisits, who knows. But watching these men desperately follow a nonlinear path led by metal nuts, bandages, and a mysterious man they've never met, solely based on things they've heard, fueled by potential fulfillment of their own egocentric aspirations, is far more expressive than hearing someone ramble on about existentialism.