Dushine’s review published on Letterboxd:
My head hurts, but in a good kind of way. I'm not sure I've seen a filmmaker that demands I be this attentive. I'm a person that is almost always fully focused when watching a film but it feels like I can't possibly watch more than one Tarkovsky film in a day.
I've only watched two films from him but I must say his films have a way of captivating you and making you ask questions about yourself, the film and life in different ways to normal. I've never for instance, thought of our deepest desires to be ones that are beyond our understanding or even perception.
Stalker is obviously a film that leaves us with a ton of questions. It's complex and challenging but it managed my attention for an impressive amount of time despite there being little happening a lot of times. If there was really any criticisms I would make it would have to be with the length of the film in relation to the pacing as well as how natural some of the dialogue sounded.
The film felt like it stretched on in scenes for way too long and I didn't really get anything from a lot of those drawn out moments. Perhaps having known the film better I can take those moments to think about the questions it poses but I dunno.
It felt at times like the monologues weren't all that justified and it was characters just going off on rambly tangents, although a lot of what they said helped flesh out their personality so it was still mostly justified.
I love to be entertained by films but I also think films that leave you with questions worth thinking about and looking for answers within yourself, are invaluable. The fear of that which we cannot begin to understand is something that I can completely understand and relate to yet I can't really explain. I look at myself and wonder, if my deepest desire could be granted, would I want it to be? Would it bring true happiness? Is there such a thing as true happiness even? While I'm asking myself those questions the film stops me dead in my tracks and asks me, do I even know what my very deepest desire is? I dunno, I guess I can see why a lot of people pay therapists, some things we can't be sure we ourselves know.
The acting was great, the cinematography was fantastic and having everything seem so run down and unappealing helped set the tone really well. The film is unsettling without ever really showing us anything, which is a testament to how something can be terrifying simply if we can't explain it.
You know, I feel a little guilty for giving Annihilation a lot of credit for being fairly unique when I can clearly see some of that credit should have been given to films like Stalker. Andrei Tarkovsky's films so far are challenging and complex but still so well crafted even an ordinary guy like me can still be so impressed.