Three Thousand Years of Longing is based on The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, a short story written by A. S. Byatt. The film centers on Dr. Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), an awkward scholar who, while in Istanbul, comes across a Djinn (Idris Elba) that offers her three wishes so that he may obtain his freedom from his eternal prison.
This story is more profound & takes a different route than your typical genie offering three wishes to the one who freed him. The film’s first half takes place in a hotel room where the Djinn tells Dr. Alithea about his past entrapments due to love & gullibility. The stories take us throughout time & show us the Djinn’s interactions with biblical figures like Solomon & the Queen of Sheeba to Murad IV, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Elba delivers as the Djinn & there are moments here where he makes you sympathize entirely with the Djinn while concomitantly making you frustrated by his past & present decisions. Swinton doesn’t pop in her scenes & comes off desiccated in all of her scenes. As much as the film wants you to see the chemistry between Elba & Swinton, there is none. The scenes with Elba telling Swinton his past failures were powerful & engaging, but when the story comes back to him & Swinton together, it falls flat.
George Miller did an excellent job of bringing this short story to life with Augusta Gore. Miller’s flavor is all over this film & his spin on visual storytelling is what helps keep this film afloat. Miller did an excellent job of bringing this short story to life with Augusta Gore. Miller’s flavor is all over this film & his spin on visual storytelling is what helps keep this film afloat.
While parts of the film may cause you to reach for some tissue to wipe away those tears, it will most certainly leave you laughing out loud during numerous scenes. The balance of comedy, romance & tragedy is what makes the storytelling very much Shakesperian. The film’s high points take place throughout the first & second acts & crashes during the final act, mainly because of the lack of chemistry Swinton & Elba have during the last act, which centers solely on them both, making it uninteresting & slow.
Three Thousand Years of Longing is a solid adaption of Byatt’s short story. Besides Swinton’s lack of chemistry with Elba, the story is beautifully done & the first two acts are emotionally powerful; it’s just too bad that the film didn’t stick to the landing. Three Thousand Years of Longing is directed by George Miller & stars Indris Elba & Tilda Swinton. The film will release in theaters on Friday, August 26th.