Solaris (AKA Solyaris) (1972)

Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” is the type of difficult film that’s easier to respect than to appreciate. At its core, it has a great story: A psychologist is sent to an orbiting space station to determine why the crew is behaving erratically, and discovers a planetary force that weaponizes human conscience. It’s heavy with thematic significance and possibility, with a noticeable attempt to extricate meaning from the premise and judicious use of special effects meant to evoke emotion instead of spectacle. However, the movie is also often hard to sit through, thanks to a languid pace that has a tendency to distract from the fascinating narrative at its core. There are some moments of majesty and a few flashes of tremendous emotional inspiration, but I suspect most of what works here comes from the novel instead of the movie.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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