Drieduisend jaar van verlange is Aladdin-vir-volwassenes en geen wens word waar nie

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING

(15) 108min

★★☆☆☆

IF most women were granted three wishes, they might include being locked in a hotel room with a nude Idris Elba.

Which is exactly what happens to Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), wie, after buying a strange-looking glass vase in Istanbul, scrubs it with an electric toothbrush and releases a djinn (Elba) who grants her three wishes.

Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star in Three Thousand Years of LongingKrediet: Alamy
While visually it’s plush and delightful, the endless stories are simply not passionate, human or enthralling enough to keep you engaged

While visually it’s plush and delightful, the endless stories are simply not passionate, human or enthralling enough to keep you engagedKrediet: Alamy

Alithea is a highly intelligent narratologist, who studies stories for a living.

She knows all about the problems with asking for wishes to be granted — throughout the history of storytelling it’s never gone well.

“There is no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale,” states Alithea.

LACKING MAGIC

And Djinn also knows a lot about wishes going wrong.

He’s had several such experiences in his two-and-a-half thousand years of residence inside various bottles.

The genie tells these stories to Alithea, who is in the city for a conference, and the pair sit in dressing gowns while he recounts his stories, which take the viewer to ancient lands far away.

From the bottom of the sea to the sex life of the Queen of Sheba, this genie has seen it all.

While visually it’s plush and delightful, the endless stories are simply not passionate, human or enthralling enough to keep you engaged.

Directed by George Miller, the creator of Mad Max, and adapted from the novella The Djinn In The Nightingale’s Eye, this strange story of present and past lust for power and fear of loneliness never really lands.

It starts to feel all a bit like a Brothers Grimm fairytale, but lacking the magic or intrigue.

Bouncing straight out of a week that launched him as the lead in the laughable action film Beast, Elba has no need to be as embarrassed by this performance.

He is very watchable as the constantly changing Djinn and Swinton brings her usual quirkiness to the role.

But there’s zero chemistry between the two, and while most people might be able to understand falling in love with the sexy-yet-vulnerable genie, the pair don’t gel, with Alithea seeming like a doddery, sexless recluse.

There’s all the imagination and craftsmanship to make a decent film, but the story is not tight enough to make this Aladdin-for-adults a wish come true.

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THE FORGIVEN

(18) 117min

★★★★☆

GUZZLING down yet another glass of wine, bigoted “functioning alcoholic” David (Ralph Fiennes) utters the fateful words: “The roads are empty.”

The belligerent surgeon and his younger wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) are off to a party in the desert for the repugnantly rich. The couple soon launch into one of their comedic-yet-spiteful spats, which appear to have been a staple of 12 unhappy years of marriage.

In The Forgiven, David (Ralph Fiennes) and his younger wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) are off to a party in the desert for the repugnantly rich

In The Forgiven, David (Ralph Fiennes) and his younger wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) are off to a party in the desert for the repugnantly richKrediet: Alamy

Later, while speeding in the desert, they row about getting lost when their car hits and kills a teenage boy.

They pile the “nobody fossil seller” into the vehicle and carry on to the party hosted by brilliantly flamboyant Matt Smith – where the death is a mere buzzkill.

After bribing police, David believes he’s in the clear but the dead boy’s dad (Ismael Kanater) shows up demanding the Englishman pay, but not how he would expect.

David goes on a journey that sees Fiennes deliver one of his finest performances as his heartless character finally experiences remorse and retribution. While David’s agonising trip could have been condensed, the film cleverly contrasts the lives of the wealthy and “fossil hunters”.

JOSH SAUNDERS

IT SNOWS IN BENIDORM

(15) 117min

★★★☆☆

“ALL I want is this” says Peter, a kind, self- proclaimed “unambitious person”, content with his dreary, repetitive life selling mortgages from a grey ­Manchester office.

Forced to take early retirement, Peter (Timothy Spall) flies to Benidorm to visit his brother Daniel, but finds he has mysteriously vanished.

'All I want is this' says Peter, a kind, self-proclaimed 'unambitious person', content with his dreary, repetitive life selling mortgages from a grey ­Manchester office

‘All I want is thissays Peter, a kind, self-proclaimed ‘unambitious person’, content with his dreary, repetitive life selling mortgages from a grey ­Manchester officeKrediet: Alamy

Embroiled in a puzzle to find him, Peter encounters intriguing locals including police chief Marta (Carmen Machi) and enigmatic Burlesque performer Alex (Sarita Choudhury), who pulls strands of pearls from her nether regions on stage and who will also reawaken his heart.

Written and directed by Isabel Coixet and produced by Pedro Almodóvar (known for collaborations with Penelope Cruz) this often dawdling tale pitches the “real” Benidorm with its crime and menace, local businesses, residents and fine restaurants against the backdrop of lairy British tourists.

A strange sub-plot about American poet Sylvia Plath is shoehorned in too, to little avail.

A tale of a man who becomes entranced with a sensual woman and rediscovers himself abroad is hardly original, but Spall and Choudhury are such talents you’ll almost believe it is.