Steven Sheehan’s review published on Letterboxd:
A slow, contemplative sci-fi, made in the 70s with decades of critical acclaim, sounds just perfect to me. So why after nearly 3 hours of watching a flimsy Russian love story set in space am I left feeling wandering what the fuss was about?
Classic art seems to reach an almost untouchable status at times, safe from criticism that can harm it and powerful enough to ensure it is you left wondering why you are just not getting it. There was a point during Solaris where that thought crossed my mind, before the frustration and outright boredom wrapped around me like my favourite duvet.
Solaris wants to ask some big questions about mankind and our purpose, our goals and failures and how we can change the course we are following. Coincidentally I am reading a book by author Ronald Wright entitled A Short History of Progress, that addresses some of the same conundrums in the hope of broadly suggesting how our future path should evolve. So naturally I felt a synergy that could help me understand where director Andrei Tarkovsky was heading with his piece.
Two hours in and there was nothing. Nothing bar what felt like incoherent ramblings about man and his understanding of love. The stilted dialogue combined with a grating relationship between Kris and Hari left me feeling as if the whole point had been missed. The pacing was slow, fairly pedestrian. Fine. No problem. The atmosphere felt dense at times yet didn't manage to sustain the intensity to make the madness on the ship feel surreal enough. Or as if the crew were truly suffering because of it.
The idea of Solaris forcing the crew members conscience to bring to life memories of the past and future in a never ending loop was very interesting and dark at times. But when you have such rigid acting and inexpressive people trying to bring the insanity alive onscreen, how do you engage? Fair enough, Kris looked like the manager of Real Madrid Carlo Ancelotti. The struggle after figuring out his doppelgänger was maintaining my interest in the crew and their plight.
Maybe I need a rewatch. Maybe I need to read the book. Maybe I need to place my faith in my mancrush George Clooney to make sense of it all for me. I'm not sure. It has taken me years to get round to watching Solaris and by the time the film was over, I wish the memory of me not watching before tonight would come alive again.