Elyes’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've always found it a bit difficult to articulate my feelings about this film, especially in association with labeling it as my "favorite" film. I can say that watching this feels like a fully realized experience, simultaneously functioning as a vivid, hypnotic dream and a realistic, sensorial journey into the unknown. From the opening frame I get that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach, a feeling that I have whenever I feel both excited and tense about an upcoming event. The atmosphere of this film is almost overwhelming, from the way Tarkovsky's camera slowly glides over subjects and environments to the hypnotizing score and sound design.
One could almost say that this is a work of science fiction more so through impressionistic means than through actual concept and plot. The sepia-tone filters which soak the frames portraying the decaying town that our main characters inhabit feels out of this world. Tarkovsky lenses the USSR as it truly was, a desolate crumbling body of nations that, through government corruption/incompetence/indifference, truly failed its people (if the ruling/upper class even cared to begin with). The site of a chemical plant disaster is a perfect encapsulation of such despondency, and even when the film breaks out into gorgeous color, the Zone itself still feels like a tarnished paradise, corrupted by the worst effects of man-made creations.
Most of all though I find the three perspectives of the film (which are elucidated by our main characters) to be deeply personal in the sense that they currently shape my own worldview. For all their contradictions, entanglements, and confluences, the subjects of religion, science, and the arts have maintained an essential foothold in my frame of reference for all things in life. And the way that they are presented here, both in the dangers and the goodwill that they inspire through potentially selfish or altruistic tendencies, is something that I find to be profoundly resonant.