Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a scholar who specialises in mythology. Whilst in Instanbul she purchases a bottle and accidentally unleashes a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes. Given her knowledge of this subject, she’s aware of the pitfalls and is unsure whether to wish. The Djinn tries to assuage her worries by telling her three stories of his past.
George Miller is quite strangely wonderful, isn’t he? He’s made some huge movies, but still has the passion and weirdness of a hungry young director. He never feels like he’s phoning it in, whether he’s doing Babe: Pig In The City, Happy Feet, Mad Max: Fury Road, or Witches Of Eastwick. This is an adaptation of a short story (The Djinn In The Nightingale’s Eye), and somehow stretched it out to 110 minutes. Under most directors, this would be a recipe for disaster, but Miller kind of makes it work.
In terms of visual style, this is much closer to Fury Road than it is to anything else he’s done: it’s psychedelic and hauntingly beautiful in a way that entrances you as you watch it. If it turned out this film was actually just a way to hypnotise you into, I dunno, buying more yo-yos or something, you wouldn’t be surprised. It’s all so colourful and wonderful, accompanied by eerie strange music that compliments it perfectly.
I never knew I wanted Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba together in a film, but it makes a lot of sense. They bounce well off each other, and the chemistry they have is electric and I’d love to see them work together again. They’d make a good romantic couple in a film.
We know this because of the film’s weird third act. Most of the film consists of the Djinn telling stories about his past, and those parts are full of magic and wonder. After hearing those stories, for some reason Alithea decides that she wants her wish to be for him to be in love with her. It’s really weird and comes out of nowhere, especially since she’s only known him for a few hours. They then move in together and complications ensue, involving a small sub-plot with racist neighbours that is introduced and ended within a few minutes. The rest of the film is so good but the final third severely lets it down. It feels very disconnected from the rest of the movie, and feels like it has come from a very rushed script. It’s a real shame, as it means you leave the cinema not with a feeling of amazement, but with a sense of disappointment and frustration.
So, maybe see this, but paying full price almost guarantees you’d feel you have wasted your money.