purkka’s review published on Letterboxd:
Damn... wanted to like this as much as some of my mutuals here on letterboxd dot com did but didn't. It just totally failed to grab me 😔
I have no huge issues with the first two thirds. Swinton and Elba are both pretty good, and their lowkey performances complement each other really well; it at least seems like a film were everyone knew what they were doing. The embedded narratives are a lot of fun & feature lots of good visuals. Bonus points for being able to make narratology sound way cooler than it actually is – in reality, they would have been talking about the order specific narrative elements appear in Russian fairytales or endlessly problematizing a concept you learn in sixth grade. But sure, it's actually that grand and important.
But yeah, the much-maligned third act was where it all fell apart for me as well. As a point of comparison, I think the mechanical aspects of the twist(s) were foreshadowed and set up really well – all of that felt like a natural extension of how the djinn was depicted before. But on the emotional side, things were just moving way too fast! The conclusion was obvious enough that it didn't really need to be meditated upon more by itself, but it was hard to engage with emotionally without spending more time in the new status quo of the characters.
Not a terrible time, just didn't come together in a way I would have liked. Dunno how to rework it – maybe with another framing device & a more nonlinear narrative? Idk but it did feel like a movie in need of harsher changes than just extending the final act for a bit, didn't really land for me at all as such.