Gay For Jake Gyllenhaal’s review published on Letterboxd:
There really is nothing much to add about the work of Andrei Tarkovsky. Renowned by critics and cinephiles alike, Tarkovsky is known for his atmospheric and philosophical films. Only seeing Solaris a long time ago before this, Stalker is my next venture into Tarkovsky’s filmography, and I went in with high expectations, and of course they were exceeded. What is there to say about Stalker that hasn’t already been said? It would almost be an injustice to go in-depth on a film that’s not only been talked about to death, but is also so complex and uniquely interpretable. It would be unfair to layout an interpretation that could skew another’s. I’ll make this one a bit of a quickie.
As with all of Tarkovsky’s work (so I’ve heard lol), Stalker is richly layered with philosophical themes on the human psyche and experience that can be deeply analyzed and interpreted. The key to progressing Stalker’s themes and characters lie in its environments. Here we get into one of Tarkovsky’s greatest strengths: the use of atmosphere and the environment. As with Solaris, Stalker’s setting is the crux of not only the plot, but also how Tarkovsky breaks down his characters. Taking place in the fantastical area called the Zone and then juxtaposed with the grimy world of reality, Stalker creates this quiet atmosphere that truly hypnotizes the audience. This mysterious Zone is used to have characters question their motivations and their lives. It’s almost a place of reflection, with it’s hypnotic atmosphere bringing out the truth from each character’s souls.
There is an immaculate beauty to Stalker that is truly undeniable. Even during the bleak, sepia world where everyone lives unhappily in their cramped apartments. Tarkovsky truly makes full use of his sets to get the perfect angle that truly pulls us into his film. There was never a point I was bored despite the film’s slow nature. There were many points where a character would drone into monologues on life, but they always felt important and interesting. Tarkovsky’s magical atmosphere truly brings this film together, and it’s cherry on top is the sound design. The music and sound are so strange and surreal with how they focus on certain elements of the world. It’s almost like these sounds create the world around us. Despite the many troubles Tarkovsky went through creating this masterpiece, it’s truly astonishing how he made a film that truly went above and beyond. I truly wonder what this film could’ve possibly been like with the footage that’s now lost. Also, I’m so sorry this is the film that killed you, Tarkovsky. You died too soon. :(
Mirror is probably next because I just bought that seggsy Criterion blu ray today