Movie Review: Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

Now playing in theatres.

A picturesque peculiarity worthy of finding a cultish niche audience, George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing (B+) is the Turkey-set tale of a bespectacled, pragmatic academic (Tilda Swinton) who awakens a kindhearted Djinn, or genie (Idris Elba) eager to grant his solitary liberator her obligatory trio of wishes, but only those she desires deeply. He arrives, Istanbul in a China shop, via a curious bottle as a giant misty creature in her hotel room and seeps into her soul as he shares storytelling flashbacks tracing his personal ancient history up to this moment in time. Miller’s asymmetrical structure interpolating fantastical past loves and battles in the Ottoman Empire and beyond with talky terrycloth musings about the cautionary qualities of their large-scale proposal is both confounding and rewarding. The callbacks serve to enrich the push-pull and burgeoning relationship between the unlikely protagonists. Miller maestros a master class of ornate visual effects, visceral cinematography and bright costumes as his two-hander unfolds and opens up to the syncopation of a lush score. Swinton and Elba are perfectly cast and prove quite believable embedded in the opus of the director’s glorious and sometimes goofy grandeur. Several plot elements could have benefitted from a few more foreshadowing breadcrumbs, but a film with this many ideas about patience, mysticism and science is a bit of a delicate soufflé. You’ll likely know if you’re the adventurous audience for this creative think piece; and if you are, it’s a sumptuous big screen experience.

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