Stories, and the discussion of them is important, this movie not so much.
Score: 2 / 5
I knew going into this movie that this wasn’t going to be another Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller’s previous masterpiece from 2015. Yet maybe it the trailer mixed with just the general storytelling approach from Fury Road that I had an expectation going into this movie. A wacky romance of sorts but with that same stellar show not tell wizardry that Miller employed with Fury Road. That is not what I got from Three Thousand Years of Longing. While it is a romance, the film both felt stretched too thin and too packed at the same time.
To explain, the movie’s plot structure felt like at times this was two different movies, or one story that needed a wrapper to feel complete for some audiences. One a story about stories themselves told through the fantastical journey of Idris Ebla’s Djinn. A Djinn by the way is like a genie with more depth. It’s the whole three wishes after being released from a bottle concept. Which that as the crux of the story would have worked! Yet then the romance piece of the story really takes hold and feels super disjointed. This story feels like a blanket around the concept that makes this movie interesting and not just another romance movie. This follows Tilda Swinton’s Alithea, who is a very introverted yet passionate woman the through the story falls for The Djinn. This story also could have been interesting! It just wasn’t the focus until it was. Again, it was this two movies in one feeling that just didn’t feel like it built off one another enough. To compound on this issue, the movie feels like it could have ended several times, and when it reaches the final ending, I felt exhausted. Not rewarded, exhausted.
None of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy some of the back and forth of Alithea and the Djinn, but I’ll be honest that I didn’t really feel the chemistry. You ever hear in a song or TV show where a character says, “you don’t love me, you love the idea of being in love?” That’s the best way I can describe how their love was coming across to me.
Something else that got under my skin were a lot of the transition and structure decisions. At a certain point it’s decided that this movie will use title cards to break up beats of the movie. That’s fine, but why wasn’t this there from the start? This issue also popped up in my head when we get to the more romance chunk of the movie. The amount of fade to black transitions just felt distracting, and sloppy. That’s the best way to describe the movie to me, it feels distracted and sloppy. Which makes it harder when Fury Road felt so damn laser focused and thought out.
Before I close, I will say, there is a bit of this movie that made it interesting for me. That would be the beginning through the several stories of the Djinn. They carried moments of terror, wonder, and spectacle. They felt special and I wished that these feelings continued through to the conclusion arc of the movie. They don’t though. They devolve or disappear entirely. Fantasy becomes heartless science. An interesting exploration and discussion of story falls into predictable love story mode on fast-forward. It falls flat in all ways for me, which yeah, after Fury Road it’s a big bummer.
Three Thousand Years of Longing has some interesting ideas, but through a disjointed approach to the story and sloppy pacing, it falls flat into a very skippable movie.