Three Thousand Years of Longing

Three Thousand Years of Longing ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING is very much a thematic expansion of the Mad Max films, but the trailers’ attempt to sell it as a similar adrenaline rush to FURY ROAD is one of the worst disservices to a film I’ve seen in recent memory. While just as visually sophisticated as the majority of Miller’s past efforts, this is a complete 180 in terms of pacing from the Max films: hypnotic where they were aggressive, romantic — *deeply* so — where they were explorations of a protagonist who can’t even commit to platonic relationships.

Most of what’s stuck with me about THREE THOUSAND YEARS involves the third act, the part that appears to be the most divisive among audiences. Once Elba’s Djinn finishes sharing his stories of love lost, the ball is taken to Swinton’s court—- her Alithea, a self-proclaimed “solitary creature” who’s lost a husband and presumably a child-to-be, uses her first wish to add herself to the list of the Djinn’s lovers. One might initially question what about the Djinn drew Alithea to him, but this is less a film about a particular romance and more one about the nature of what inspires romances to begin with.

Alithea and The Djinn are not meant to be in the same world together. His chemistry of electromagnetism and flame crumbles in an atmosphere built for the creatures of dust, his phrasing for humans. And yet, he returns to Alithea time and time again after her final wish for him — that he return to the place where he truly feels at home. This third wish was made after a second one where she insisted that he stay alive for her at all cost — indicative of a woman who is not used to feeling this much about another being.

All of this is in service of a narrative about the nature of love being one that goes against the grain of common sense — and yet, we bend over backwards to make it work, as has been proven over the course of many millennia. The confusion Alithea and The Djinn face in how much they should move forward with their relationship, along with the on-and-off moments they share together, are proof of an emotional connection living creatures can share that supersedes science and common sense. It’s a connection I’ve struggled to process months into each relationship I’ve lived through, one that leaves me equally baffled and inspired. It’s portrayed beautifully here by Swinton, Elba, Miller and co-writer Augusta Gore, and it makes me love this film the more I think about it.

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