Stephen’s review published on Letterboxd:
Certainly very interesting revisiting these films, Tarkovsky has always been an unparalleled formalist, with a staggering aptitude for mood/scene setting which here allows him to emit a metaphysical aura to even the most natural of environs, bereft of special effects or even anything overtly surreal. The use of focus to rotate through the emotion stricken miens of each character, typically during long uninterrupted takes, allows for such a visceral exploration of trauma/angst/animus, perfectly complimenting the films languid pacing and contemplative subject matter. A precedent for displaying emotion on film, and also of just acting in general, with Kaydanovskiy in particular being a real standout.
In contrast, the films philosophy is predictably obfuscatory and frequently moored in sophistry, yet always engaging regardless. In my mind, many of the films aphorisms will be lost on viewers days after viewing, what will linger is the enigma, and the advent of director who knew exactly what true art was meant to be.