What to Watch This Weekend: Three Thousand Years of Longing

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Three Thousand Years of Longing is the story of Djinn (Idris Elba). Also known as a wish-granting genie, this Djinn has had a multitude of adventures throughout history. Many of his tales are of love, imprisonment, hope, and regret—all of which he recounts to the lonely Alithea (Tilda Swinton). Alithea, a narratologist, had begun experiencing hallucinations of demonic beings whilst attending a conference in Istanbul. These visions may or may not have led her to accidentally procure the bottle holding Djinn captive; a quick scrub sets him free. Dubious of his true intentions, Alithea listens carefully to Djinn’s stories and considers what she herself might wish for.

What works in Three Thousand Years of Longing is the fantastical nature of the yarn. Elba pours out his soul with great sincerity as a masterful storyteller that will have audiences on the edge of their seat. The narrative is a rich, lush journey through time and space with a healthy sprinkling of supernatural. From the moment Djinn arrives, it is impossible not to remain engaged and hanging on his every word just as Alithea does. The poetic and floral language is only bolstered by the wondrous visuals as writer/director George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) leverages his creativity and imagination. He masterfully constructs his version of historical events such as revealing what Queen Sheba and King Solomon were actually like. And bouncing off Elba is Swinton, who gives a reserved performance as an incredulous inquisitor: asking the very questions onlookers might have swirling around in their brains. The result is a wholly original and colorful fairy tale.

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Audiences who prefer stories firmly grounded reality may not enjoy Three Thousand Years of Longing as much as others. Much like Alithea, people able to simply accept that Djinn exist, and that all previous “knowledge” about genies is up for debate, will likely relish the ride. Also, it may be hard not to wonder if Miller conceived of this project as a much longer narrative. For as sumptuous and detailed as Djinn’s stories are when on display, the final act feels uncharacteristically rushed. Up until the third act, Miller’s universe feels meticulously constructed and thus the conclusion may feel a little unsatisfying given how much it leaves unresolved.

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a delightful showcase for Elba and Swinton who are clearly relishing their time on screen. They exude of type of love for the world around them (and others) that’s highly infectious especially when viewed through Miller’s creative lens.

Audiences can find and watch Three Thousand Years of Longing through premium streaming video services.

Recommended if you Enjoyed: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Aladdin, Big Fish

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Fox Troilo

Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.

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