Spoilers want out of this lamp now.

I had meant to add this movie to my watchlist a while ago. Then I forgot until a friend posted watched it and recommended it. I’ll give it away now, it’s worth watching. You’re going to feel some nostalgia along the lines of One Thousand And One Arabian Nights, and if you don’t get that reference you might want to look it up. It has a few aspects that might have worked better, but I dare say it is so enjoyable in its storytelling that I didn’t mind the voiceover narration. Time to let the djinn out of the bottle.

(Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) is directed by George Miller and written by him, Augusta Gore and A.S. Byatt. Doctor Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is in Istanbul attending a conference and talking about how myths of old are slowly fading away from the public’s perception and relevance. She also starts seeing visions of mythical creatures in her daily life. After picking up a souvenir, a crystal bottle that she ends up breaking open, she is visited by a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes. Rather than jump into the offer, she first gets to know the magical being. We get to witness these stories come to life.

First of all, the cinematography here is literally magical. Yes, there is CGI involved but I found it that it walks the line of sumptuous somewhere between tasteful and overdone. Somehow it remains fitting and satisfying to look at even when that line blurs. Once you accept you are inside an arabian tale with a rather mature view of the fantastic, hopefully you will be hooked. I enjoyed the intellectual vs the romantic view merging rather than clashing. Alithea represents the intellect while the Djinn represents the fantasy and yet they are both passionate in their own way.

The stories are a joy to spectate as long as you accept the visual style is part of the essence. There is no basic comedic layer that could have easily cheapened the interaction. I found the romantic angle between Alithea and the Djinn was unnecessary and a bit forced. I found the interaction was at its best as platonic. At no time did I feel there was a lovers’ chemistry between them. I still enjoyed their intellectual conversations which were a breath of fresh air compared to the mediocre comedic banter of lesser films.

Yes, it works more than enough to excuse its few shortcomings. This movie could have easily turned into a cheesy romantic where the dialog would be full of one-liners. Instead, I found Elba turns in a fine performance and almost perfect line delivery. Swinton doesn’t get left behind, giving us a character full of nuance and self-agency.

Highly recommended with minimum reservations. Elba and Swinton give great performances. The cinematography is on point and visually magnificent. The style is very rich in colour to the point that casual audiences might think this is a fairy tale. It’s not, it’s an arabian tale. Very much worth a watch, and even a second one.

That will do for now.