Saturday, December 3, 2022

Review: "THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING" is a Fairy Tale of Love Stories

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 73 of 2022 (No. 1885) by Leroy Douresseaux

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)
Running time:  108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
MPA – R for some sexual content, graphic nudity and brief violence
DIRECTOR:  George Miller
WRITERS:  George Miller and Augusta Gore (based upon the short story by A.S. Byatt)
PRODUCERS:  Doug Mitchell and George Miller
EDITOR:  Margaret Sixel


Starring:  Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, Erdil Yasaroglu, Aamito Lagum, Ece Yuksel, Matteo Bocelli, and Nicolas Mouawad

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a 2022 fantasy film and romantic drama directed by George Miller  It is based on the short story, “The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye,” which was written by author A. S. Byatt and first published in the Winter 1994 edition of The Paris Review.  Three Thousand Years of Longing focuses on lonely scholar and a djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.

Three Thousand Years of Longing introduces Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), a lonely British scholar and “narratologist.”  She travels to Istanbul, Turkey for a conference.  While there, Alithea visits Istanbul's “Grand Bazaar” where she enters a store filled with beautiful and intricate glassware.  She purchases an odd, antique bottle, and takes it back to her hotel.

While cleaning the bottle, Alithea is shocked to discover that there is something inside it and that she has unwittingly released its contents.  Alithea has accidentally unleashed a djinn that was trapped inside the bottle.  The Djinn (Idris Elba) offers to grant her three wishes, but Alithea believes that djinn are tricksters and that the wishes they grant turn out to be misfortune for those that did the wishing.  So The Djinn tells Alithea three tales that explain how he came to be in the bottle in which she found him.  Will this convince Alithea to accept his offer of three wishes – an act that will grant him freedom?

First, I must say that Three Thousand Years of Longing has excellent production values, and I would expect nothing less from a great filmmaker like George Miller, best known for his Mad Max films, including the original Mad Max (1979) and the most recent, the winner of multiple Oscar-winner, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).  The costumes, sets, art direction, hair and make-up, the score, and cinematography give Three Thousand Years of Longing a golden hue.  It is in the depiction of The Djinn's stories that this film's production values assert their power in transforming Three Thousand Years of Longing into a engaging fairy tale full of wondrous fairy tales

However, these same fairy tales often outshine the main narrative, much of which deals with the impasse in which Alithea and The Djinn find themselves.  Luckily, Three Thousand Years of Longing is a story with a beginning, middle, and an end.  For it is at the end that we learn that Three Thousand Years of Longing is truly a love story, but a love story that only a fairy tale can tell.  Love is a story, and in this story, love, with its endless longing, is different and lives differently.

George Miller and his co-writer, Augusta Gore, could only tell this film story with two extraordinary and exceptional actors.  Tilda Swinton, strange chameleon and splendid thespian, and Idris Elba, whose profound voice reveals the deep pool of ability from which it springs, are so perfectly matched in being mismatched and star-crossed, that they make us believe in what their characters ultimately make for themselves.  Three Thousand Years of Longing is not perfect, but it is the kind of fantasy film that only exceptional cinematic talents can create.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Saturday, December 3, 2022

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