Summary: A lonely scholar, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.
I’ma be honest… I missed the first five minutes of this movie and I definitely plan to watch again but I definitely had a lot of thoughts after. I feel like this review is weird lol.
Cast and Characters. Our two leads are the main characters but we have a lot of characters we meet and I think everyone does well throughout the movie.
- Tilda Swinton as Alithea & Idris Elba as The Djinn. I’m not fully sure if I think they have chemistry that’s like jaw dropping but I think it’s there… but I also think that’s the point. But Alithea is a British scholar who occasionally has hallucinations of demonic creatures. She finds an antique bottle and released a Djinn that was trapped inside. Of course we get the normal “grant three wishes as long as it’s her heart’s desire” and they have conversations about him being a trickster and talking about wishing being a mistake. She’s very skeptical of him and he’s this large being who is enigmatic but very relatable in how he’s felt in his long life. They have really interesting conversations about “the heart’s desire” and love and all that. In the second half of the movie, their existing together and on her end, there’s a little something extra but not quite for him because of what she wished for. So it’s interesting with them interacting. I would have never put these two actors together, but they’re both really wonderful so it ultimately works.
The Djinn’s Stories. These are the best parts of the movie because not only are they so beautifully shot, but the stories themselves are interesting. We learn three big moments in his past life, two of them result in him being confined to his bottle and in a lot of ways it’s emotional and sad. The first one talks about how he loved the Queen of Sheba but if you’re familiar with that story, then you know. The second talks about how he is the djinn for a girl in a castle who is in love with the prince. There’s a lot going on here but then he ends up wandering unseen until he’s found but that story ends so sad. His last story talks about a brilliant young woman and love. It also ends rather sad. But they’re all so interesting that I wanted more.
The CGI Effects. I think the CGI is really good, I liked how the Djinn looked. His bottom half was like… animalistic? He had gold on his fingers that he’d use by rubbing together and creating like… liquid to grant wishes. When we first meet him, he fills the room and then he remains rather large when he becomes more human sized… It was quite cool. I liked a lot of the effects used in the flashbacks as well.
The Cinematography. John Seale is the cinematographer and he’s done a lot of movies I’ve seen but he’s worked with George Miller before on Mad Max: Fury Road, and his work is amazing. The movie is absolutely beautiful. The flashbacks during The Djinn’s stories are so beautiful
Story is lacking. I think this is the biggest problem with the movie is how much the overall story is lacking when it comes to Alithea and the Djinn together. In the first half of the film, Alithea finds his bottle and they spend the first half just conversing with him telling her his story because she like stories. Then the second half, deals with them existing together for a time and it’s interesting, but I feel like some choices come out of nowhere for Alithea. The Djinn’s movements are a little more complicated because he’s bound by the magic. But the emotional pull that’s tied into the story for the second half doesn’t fully work for me. I feel like it could have but there’s something missing.
The First Half is more Interesting. I think the movie is good overall but the first half is definitely way more interesting and frankly better than the second half. I think because of what Alithea wishes for might be part of the reason for that, but I was so intrigued with the Djinn’s storytelling that when it was over, I missed it.
The Message. There’s this big overarching line of “heart’s desires or desires” and being truthful in them because that’s what caused the Djinn to be imprisoned the first time and affectively causes every problem in each of his stories and it continues to cause problems with Alithea’s wish but I feel like that message gets a little muddied in the spectacle of the film and especially in the second half because you’re left wondering, why is the Djinn in particular affected in this way? It’s hard to get into this without spoiling lol.
Overall, I really liked this movie and I’d watch it again many times. I would probably get something out of it each time and I bet my review would change on each rewatch. It’s one of those kinds of movies. But the acting is good all around, especially with Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba leading the charge. The movie so beautiful to look at, the CGI is good and the Djinn’s stories in the beginning are so interesting that they honestly overshadow the second half of the film. The second half is fine but I think it gets bogged down with the story losing the interesting factor. I feel like the overall story isn’t as great as the stories we are told by the Djinn. It honestly could have just been an anthology following this Djinn and I would have been fine with that. I also think the message gets a little lost since the Djinn is so big on “heart’s desires” within the wishes but they always cause problems… it’s a lot to think about honestly and I don’t think the movie thought it out as well as they could have. But I would recommend this movie, it’s definitely worth the watch.
Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Three Thousand Years of Longing? What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comment section below!
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