“What a great movie, and what a twist ending! That last scene was like something out of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone!” leads to “…Come to think of it, that whole movie seemed sort of like a Twilight Zone premise” inevitably leads to “The Twilight Zone managed to do stories like this ALL THE TIME without being three fucking hours long. I don’t care how great of a master of visual storytelling you are, take that shit to the editing room and come back with a movie that has a middle section that I don’t need a pot of coffee to stay awake during.”
All that said, I’ve been flipping from “brilliant” to “shitty” all night long, hence the 2.5. By tomorrow my opinion could be the complete opposite. Here are the things that I think are going to stay constant:
1. Henri Burton is the most interesting character in the whole movie and he’s not even in it past the first 45 minutes.
2. The cinematography was Goddamn amazing.
3. The middle hour is far and away the least compelling part of the movie.
The damn thing is legitimately just a long-ass Twilight Zone episode that has great acting and is really well shot but also has scenes where you might have to look at a plant or a freeway or the front of somebody’s bed for a couple of minutes at a time, which I guess Tarkovsky thought was more interesting than the whole “The Ocean of Solaris is a living organism and also oh shit my wife is here and that means we’ve got some pretty stock tragic couple issues that we need to sort out” thing. Sometimes he’s right about that! But most of the time he isn’t.