Trailer: Idris Elba is Tilda Swinton’s Genie in ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’

Above image courtesy of MGM

Tilda Swinton can be incredibly, seriously serious. Really, few can be as convincingly solemn as she. (Witness the currently touring indie film Memoria, in which she is “terrorized” by a mysterious sonic phenomenon.)

Which is why we especially love her occasional comic turns, as in The Dead Don’t Die, The French Dispatch, and the otherwise utterly awful Trainwreck. And though her latest, the epically titled Three Thousand Years of Longing (in theaters August 31 via MGM) is billed as a fantasy/drama, the first trailer just released for it makes its particularly snarking sense of humor immediately evident. Helmed by visionary Mad Max director George Miller, in it Ms. Swinton plays Alithea Binnie (totally awesome name), a willfully solitary – “I have no children, no siblings, no parents” – academic sort, who leads a mundane life save for the occasional travel to some or other smarty pants conference.

In just such an instance, the film finds her in Istanbul, and as one does while visiting Turkey’s cultural capital, she makes a trip to the Grand Bazaar, and purchases an exotically looking “memento.” In attempting to polish it up over the sink, she rubs it the wrong (right?) way, and out pops Idris Elba’s hunky, pointy-eared Genie, who – you’ve already guessed it, surely – straight away grants her three wishes.

She straightforwardly asks, “What does one do with three wishes?,” to which he slyly replies, “You’ll see.” Lots of fantastical scenes then flash across the screen – exotic Ottoman palaces, long necked zebras, colorfully flamboyant ceremonies of some sort or another…until Alithea then makes apparently the worst mistake possible, by telling Genie, “I’m beginning to wish we’d never met.” Gasp.

All manner of mayhem seems to be unleashed from there, and we’re once again reminded of the eternal wisdom of the expression “Be careful what you wish for.” But it all promises to be an extravagant, sometimes preposterous ride (it earned a six minute standing ovation at Cannes last week, and Variety has already called it the “first Oscar Best Picture contender”). And surely the coming together of Idris and Tilda on the same screen was nothing short of destiny.

Still, as Alithea emphasizes via a conversation with Genie, “There is no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale.” So, you know…definitely don’t try this at home.

Image courtesy of MGM

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