Three Thousand Years Of Longing Reviews Are Here, See What Critics Are Saying About The George Miller Fantasy

Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing.
(Image credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

The famed director of films like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Witches of Eastwick, George Miller is back after seven years for another go in the fantasy realm. Three Thousand Years of Longing stars Idris Elba (in his second movie to hit theaters this month) and Tilda Swinton in the adaptation of the short story "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye" by A.S. Byatt. Critics have seen the movie and are here to tell us what to expect before it hits theaters August 26.

In Three Thousand Years of Longing, Tilda Swinton plays Alithea Binnie, an academic who happens upon a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers to grant her three wishes. The film’s mind-blowing trailer promises fans the excesses of sex, death, revenge and more, so let’s see what the critics are saying. We’ll start, of course, with CinemaBlend’s review of Three Thousand Years of Longing, in which Mike Reyes rates the film 3 out of 5 stars. He loves the pairing of Elba and Swinton and says this deserves to be seen on the big screen, but the review argues George Miller should have amped up the weird: 

The film continues past what felt like a logical endpoint, and George Miller and co-writer Augusta Gore inject some modern commentary into what is essentially the fourth story of Three Thousand Years of Longing’s anthology. If it were laid out a little better in the opening act of the film, the very pointed jabs at the real world could have been a great opportunity to get weird. Instead, certain decisions and plot points that really want to say something about our current state of affairs stick out like sore thumbs, failing to be woven properly into the overall fabric.

Qina Liu of The Seattle Times is on the same page, with a rating of 2.5 stars out of a possible 4. In what is a “mesmerizing cinematic experience” — thanks to cinematographer John Seale, who also worked with George Miller on Mad Max: Fury Road — this critic could have done without the fourth act:

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a cerebral film that barters in riddles. It’s a cautionary fairy tale about wishful thinking. It’s a flawed, but intoxicating kaleidoscope of stories. If only the film ending were as strong as its beginning and middle.

Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press rates it 3 out of 4 stars and notes that the stories told by Idris Elba’s Djinn are “enchanting, brutal, sensual, grotesque,” and like other critics have said, this team makes it work. From the review:

At times, you may grow impatient wondering what it’s all building towards and if you even care, as Alithea doubles down on her stance that she’d rather not make any wishes at all. But she, and the audience, are in for a surprise. It’s the kind of moment that doesn’t make a lot of emotional sense on paper, but that’s why we go to the movies, isn’t it? Swinton and Miller make it work.

Aaron Neuwirth of We Live Entertainment also finds the film better than average, rating it an 8. The critic says Three Thousand Years of Longing highlights the power of storytelling, but it’s Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba who hold the movie together:

Swinton takes a character who could have been portrayed as pricklier with a dry sense of humor and an otherworldliness befitting her ability to reason with an immortal being. Elba shows off a tenderness that goes beyond the general idea people have when considering the various interpretations of genies in movies. Sure, the ultimate goal may still be ‘let me be free,’ but this story understands there is a complexity to how one can embrace their desires. Because this film is far more about who these individuals are than telling a familiar tale, Miller gets terrific work from both performers to fully realize the journeys he has placed them on.

Linda Codega of Gizmodo also speaks of storytelling and the way this movie alternates between the main characters’ conversation and the fantastic centuries-old tales, saying the result is somewhat muddled: 

The strength of Three Thousand Years of Longing is in its own referential nature. A story about stories, about storytellers, and about how stories fit into the modern world. It’s a softly charming film that takes the fantastic and renders it into colors and themes we can easily identify. There are points of this movie that become a little tied up in itself, a little too meta, but it never lasts very long.

If this sounds like a movie you want to catch on the big screen, Three Thousand Years of Longing is set to hit theaters on Friday, August 26. You can check out what other movies Idris Elba has in the works, but it will be a while before we see George Miller’s next project. The Mad Max prequel Furiosa started filming in June but isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until May 24, 2024. So in the meantime, take a look at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to start planning your next trip to the theater.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.