Andrea’s film review – Three Thousand Years of Longing

Three Thousand Years of Longing ⭐️⭐️ 1/2 Review by Andrea Carnevali

A lonely scholar, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Out in selected cinemas now and available to rent on all major streaming platforms.

Over the years we’ve come to expect the “unexpected” from director George Miller: his eclectic filmography from Mad Max to Lorenzo’s Oil, all the way through to Babe and Happy Feet stands as a testament of how difficult the Australian filmmaker is to pigeonhole.

Three Thousand Years of Longing, a passion project for him for him, seems to confirm the unpredictable trajectory in his film making canon, which on one hand is a good thing, but at the same time it makes the film very hard to define. I can tell the publicists must have been scratching their heads on this one, which probably explains its poor box office returns.

On the surface it may look like a cross between the familiar fairy tale about the genie in a lamp and his three wishes and an epic, sweeping blockbuster full of magic and special effects and a mid-budget art-house film. But when you look at it closely, it’s actually none of them.

The “fairy tale” part is difficult to work out who is it aimed at. The film is rated 15 for some rather pointless and gratuitous sexual content for a start, which makes it redundant for the kids. As for the blockbuster crowd, the pace is certainly much too slow for them and the visual effects mostly rather pedestrian (which is particularly surprising when you consider the calibre of those breathtaking sequences in Mad Max: Fury Road).

As for those looking for something meatier, they may end up being disappointed by the superficially explored philosophical and psychological side of the film. There’s a lot of interesting themes at play here about loneliness and desire, most of which all falls to pieces in the last act and it doesn’t quite pay off.

This is in fact closer to a chamber piece. The framing device is one that sees Duinn, the genie (Idris Elba) narrating a series of stories to the main character Alithea (Tilda Swinton) in an hotel room.

And while some of the stories have ambition and imagination, most of the time I found them rather unengaging and disappointingly cheap looking (Those CGI cobwebs being particularly bad and distracting) and crucially not amounting to much by the time the credits rolled.

It reminded me of another film from 2006 called The Fall, which had a similar sort of structure (fantastic stories within a story), but was visually much more accomplished (in fact, do seek it out if you can, it’s a visual fest!)

I really wanted to like this one, but for all its good intentions, it’s wanting to be different and intellectually charged, I actually found it rather dull and pretty non-magical. Disappointing.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

Three Thousand Years of Longing is still out in selected cinemas and available to rent on all major streaming platforms.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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