If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to witness a Djinn in therapy, you’ll find out in Three Thousand Years of Longing.
Dr. Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), a narratologist who studies stories, finds herself in Istanbul for a conference. When she’s not participating in her academic duties, she randomly encounters a Djinn (Idris Elba) after buying his bottle at a local shop. Fate somehow brings them together but then this two-hander largely becomes a therapy session. Alithea is someone who feels rather content with her life. You know how genies tell you that you have three wishes? Well, we’ve got a problem here because here’s a woman that doesn’t want to make a wish. Instead, the two of them get to know each other. Before you know it, we’re listening to the Djinn discuss his past, which includes biblical figures like King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Alithea is honestly the last person that should come in possession of three wishes. What if she uses them wrongly? Or, G-d forbid, what if he tricks her into making a wish? Again, it becomes a therapy session as we learn more and more how fate has brought them together. Who possessed him in the past? How does King Solomon play a role in his journey? Does the film conflict with what Nevi’im has to say about the former King of Israel or is there room for debate? I’ll defer to rabbinic authorities on this question. What I’ll let you know right now is that the Magen David draws its look from the Seal of Solomon. That’s another story for another day.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the film heads in a certain direction. If you’ve seen Aladdin, you almost certainly know it’s bound to happen. It’s the right thing to do, right? At some point, it no longer becomes a question of it but when and by the time it happens, the patience begins to wear thin. But for what it’s worth, to Idris’s credit, they shoot his character’s previous scenes first. If it helps him get into character, that’s great.
One thing that is for sure is that this is a pandemic movie. It’s as if they’ve written the pandemic into the film but couldn’t keep the mask-wearing consistent. There are points in the film where some of the audience at the conference is masked while the other part isn’t. The same goes for the airport in that you see some masks and other people are not wearing them. Which is it? This is why I wish that these films would just ignore the pandemic because the consistency in mask wearing just isn’t there and it takes you out of the film.
Nothing against Idris Elba or Tilda Swinton but Three Thousand Years of Longing just doesn’t have the magic.
DIRECTOR: George Miller
SCREENWRITERS: George Miller and Augusta Gore
CAST: Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton
MGM will release Three Thousand Years of Longing in theaters on August 26, 2022. Grade: 3/5
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