A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

George Miller’s ‘genie in a bottle’ fable is nothing new, but it’s just the right escapist magic we need now

Tilda Swinton has delivered many diverse roles in her lengthy filmography. But when average filmgoers think of her, it is usually for those roles in which she’s played the evil protagonist. She’s been the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise, an uptight lawyer in Female Perversions, a creepy corporate type in Vanilla Sky, grotesquely wealthy socialite in Wittgenstein, hellraiser in Constantine, and so many more delightfully vile characters.

Swinton’s is a CV, in fact, that sees the artist garner more credibility with every cunning, conniving or cruel character her heart and soul can muster.

However, in George Miller’s new movie 3,000 Years of Longing, Tilda’s role is suddenly (and surprisingly) that of a lovestruck lass: kind of like the princess part in an updated version of the old genie-offers-three-wishes narrative.

Swinton plays a scholar of story and mythology, Dr. Alithea Binnie, happily single and taking pleasure in sharing her love of mythology and literature to institutions around the world. It is in an antique marketplace, while attending a conference in Istanbul, that she comes by a cute little bottle that houses something altogether grander than she’d ever imagine.

Happily cleaning the bottle with her electric toothbrush, the good doctor inadvertently rubs it the right way to reveal a giant djinn (read: a spirit that comes just under ‘angel’ in mythological rank), who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.

Being the cautious scholar that she is, the doctor knows all the cautionary tales of wishes that can go wrong and so most of the narrative is of the djinn coaxing Alithea to release him, and Alithea questioning his every possible motive.

Like a quality date during which two strangers fairly quickly get to know each other, the djinn and the doctor find themselves getting along very well, despite their constant debating and obvious differences.

Quality (albeit sometimes redundant) banter leads to great physical attraction and before you know it, you’re watching a romantic fairytale in which a woman who was once a wicked witch is now one filled with immense emotion and pangs for love.

Idris Elba (The Dark Tower) does a decent enough job of playing the djinn-slash-genie but as gigantic a character as he appears physically, ardent filmgoers might find his performance dwarfed by the greatness that is Tilda.

Still, 3,000 Years of Longing is an enjoyable film, perfect for escape in these trying times. See it on the big screen to truly appreciate its magic and beauty.

Antonino Tati


‘3,000 Years of Longing’ is in cinemas now.

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