Eric McDonough’s review published on Letterboxd:
Like most, on a narrative level I can’t make heads or tails of it.
It’s become a groan-worthy cliche to ask “was it all a dream?” at the end of a movie. But it’s natural and logical to connect dreams with this medium. Dreams have a weird relationship with time, memory, and invention that movies basically share, or at least are able to. Tarkovsky here lays out his subconscious in a way that we can experience it with him. And like the dreams we remember, it’s beautiful and haunting. The imagery, crafted with an extraordinary eye, stays in your mind. I will never forget the camera slowly approaching a mirror, at just the wrong angle to see itself reflected. As it approaches it changes its angle until it gets to the point in which you should see the camera reflected. Instead, you see a boy. It’s creepy, but draws you in.
This style can certainly be done poorly, but the vision Tarkovsky gives us is such a striking sensory experience that it satisfies in ways that make up for its lack of narrative cohesion. Its artistic value lies elsewhere.
And if you’re going to make your movie an impenetrable stream of consciousness, you could do much worse than to put Bach over it!