Movie Review: ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ — A powerful anthology
What is your most heartfelt desire? For Tilda Swinton’s Alithea, she hasn’t got a clue. As a narratologist, she studies the stories told around the world; the myths that explain the unexplainable. As a woman of science, she’s convinced herself that’s all they are – works of fiction with no bearing on reality. Yet, as an emotional person, when she sees a 30-foot-tall being emerge from a dusty old bottle she’s rubbed clean, she can’t help but stand in awe.
That mystical being is a djinn, played by Idris Elba, whose only hope at freedom is fulfilling the three wishes of a woman who can’t put her finger on one. While most people would jump at the chance to bring their wildest dreams to life, Alithea’s scepticism gets the better of her. Tales of wishing are always cautionary, so her djinn must convince her through his stories of his last three thousand years. Those stories are of loss, longing, and lies, yet they’re crafted so intricately they could only be true.
The film is a story about stories. How powerful they can be, but only if we allow ourselves to believe them. Most of Three Thousand Years of Longing dabbles in dispelling doubt, as the film whisks the audience into a world of fantasy. The movie accomplishes its task with conviction, understanding that the devil is in the details. Much of what you see on the screen feels finely crafted, well thought out, and executed.
From the structure of its plot to its masterfully designed visuals, Three Thousand Years of Longing presents the impossible in a way that beckons you to trust it. It grounds the unbelievable, allowing you to suspend disbelief. There’s an understanding of the love audiences have for a good story, so much so that we’re willing to throw caution to the wind, and take it at face value. Simply because it feels right.
Even the way the story begins is the subject of convincing coincidence. Of all the antique stores, in all the towns in all the world, Alithea walks into the one with a magic bottle, choosing it because she feels it has a good story. If she only knew.
Rating: Big Screen Watch
Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies.