From filmmaker George Miller (Mad Max series) comes a different kind of “genie” fantasy that takes place in the modern world. When an intelligent and mature woman discovers a Djinn’s bottle and releases him, she is naturally curious about his past experiences and the results following when people are granted their wishes. This story serves as the bookends to an anthology of stories as the Djinn discusses the nature of humanity and all of its faults. While I have my issues with some of the vignettes, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction and budding relationship between the Djinn and his latest beneficiary.
Tilda Swinton stars as scholar Althea Binnie. While on a work trip, Althea discovers a quaint and seemingly rare antique bottle which she purchases. Upon further examination in her hotel room, she inadvertently release a large powerful Djinn (Idris Elba) whose sole duty is to grant her three wishes. Since she is an academic, Althea wants to select her wishes rather carefully and pursues an engagement with the Djinn over the different possiblilities and possible outcomes of her choices. The Djinn then takes her on a journey through his life and all of the experiences that have lead him up to this moment.
Based on the short story, The Djinn in the Nightengayle’s Eye by A.S. Byatt, writer/director George Miller, who co-wrote the screenplay with Augusta Gore, delivers a rather intiguing and often exciting film that is guaranteed to make people ponder the whole philosophy behind getting wishes granted and how it often feeds into the worse flaws of humanity. The mix of magical visuals and solid storytelling works mostly well, but does come short during a couple of its vignettes. What is most compelling about this movie is the developing relationship between characters Althea Binnie and the Djinn.
Both Tilda Swinton and and Idris Elba are both outstanding in their roles and share the perfect chemistry here. Althea is not afraid to challenge the Djinn, and though he is rather surprised that a person would ask so many questions and not simply request her most basic wishes or demand her most extravagant dreams, he develops an undeniable respect and admiration for her.
And while the magical fantasy aspects of the movie can be fun and exciting, I feel that people should watch this movie, simply for the performances of Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Though George Miller’s filmmaking and storytelling is very good here, it is his lead actors which make the movie all the more captivating. Three Thousand Years of Longing is now in theaters, and I recommend it as a solid matinee.