Ivan is a 12 year old boy, who volunteer to the army as a spy after his entire family was killed.
I say poetic, mysterious, good acting, unique portraying of war.
Furthermore! The movie show war it in its full horror, but not through gore and violence, as in fact it’s very little of actual war that we see. Rather horror is expressed through inner experience of Ivan. Although, Ivan is only 12, he’s really somehow universal: sometimes strength, direction and confidence which exceed fully grown up person can be seen in him, in other times (or sometimes even in parallel), we see in him child, who’s sensitive and fragile.
The movie consist of dark and gloomy reality, and the opposite - bright and happy dreams, which tells us a little bit about Ivan’s life, before the war. Those dreams sometimes turn into a nightmare, which violently wake up Ivan into another nightmare - reality.
Many scenes in the movie holds artistic values, you could easily pause, print and hang them on the wall, and they would express a lot of movie’s original message.
Spoilers The end is interesting, Ivan is dead, but yet, we’re presented with one of the dream scenes, for which we could speculate, represent, - as there’s no more dreamer to dream - afterlife, better reality in which Ivan exists now. But also, the end of nightmarish darkness for all the people affected by the war.