A Thousand and One sounded like an interesting family drama. I was interested to see what they explored in this film about a mother and her son. After viewing the movie, I found an unexpected twist on the concept of found family. It is emotional, with sympathetic characters and powerful emotions. It is authentic and explores family dynamics in unusual ways.

A Thousand and One is a drama written and directed by A.V. Rockwell. The movie follows unapologetic and free-spirited Inez (Teyana Taylor), who kidnaps her young son Terry (Aaron Kingsley Adetola as 6 years old, Aven Courtney as 13 years old, and Josiah Cross as 17 years old) from the foster care system. The pair hold onto each other and their secret as they build a home and a sense of place in New York City. Inez is independent but still relies on her friend Kim (Terry Abney) and Inez’s partner Lucky (Will Catlett). But will Inez and Terry’s relationship hold up against the rapidly changing times in New York City?

What makes the film so authentic and emotional is the complexity of the relationships between Inez and Terry, Inez and Lucky, and even Inez and Kim. Inez is free-spirited but also strong-willed. She grew up in foster care and has little understanding of how to navigate relationships herself and so she struggles with being a good mother to Terry by explaining her actions. She fights with Lucky, and while neither is blameless, it is a tempestuous relationship, full of passion but also pain as the pair hurt each other over time. Kim supports her but doesn’t always agree with all her choices. And as Terry grows up, he asks more questions and struggles more against the bonds of his mother’s love. All of that complexity makes for a rich and beautiful story.

One of the other reasons it is so excellent is that it’s rare to see a story that focuses on a type of family we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen families in the ghetto, but it usually shows how badly things go. This actually demonstrates the love Inez has for Terry and what sacrifices she is willing to make so he can have a better life. We’ve seen white protagonists who have these kinds of relationships, but it is incredibly good to see it in a family of color. The dynamics of the family are well explored, and when Lucky comes into the picture, we get to see a positive father figure for Terry. While he and Inez have issues, he is always there for Terry, offering support and caring. The relationship is beautifully expressed.

The performance by Teyana Taylor is profound and emotional. She is powerful in her interactions with the actors who play Terry. The chemistry between her and Will Catlett as Lucky is sizzling, even when they fight. The dynamic between her and 17-year-old Terry, Josiah Cross, is especially impactful and moving, especially at the end of the movie. The actor playing 6-year-old Terry, Aaron Kingsley Adetola, is very expressive. He brings focus to the first third of the film. Aven Courtney as 13-year-old Terry and Josiah Cross as 17-year-old Terry are both dynamic and powerful. Josiah Cross brings us an especially beautiful scene at the end of the film. Will Catlett as Lucky has a performance that is nuanced and warm.

There are pieces that prevent the film from being as impactful as it could be. The first third of the film is a bit complicated and confusing. The film’s pacing is thrown off by trying to figure out what Inez is doing and what is going on in the movie. But as the film moves into the second and third acts, it becomes much more emotional, and the pacing improves. By the end of the film, there is a twist in the plot that will take you by surprise and lessens the issues with the pacing. It is especially wonderful to see the focus on a different type of family and their dynamics.

If you love films about families, if you love films about mothers and sons, this is a movie you will want to watch. The film is authentic, messy, and emotional. The performances are powerful, in particular Teyana Taylor and Josiah Cross. The characters are sympathetic despite the choices that they make, and the ending is beautiful if open-ended. Viewers will find themselves in tears.

Rating: 4 out of 5 hairstyles.

Official Website: A Thousand and One | Official Website | March 31 2023
Facebook: @AThousandAndOneFilm
Instagram: @athousandandonefilm
Twitter: @AThousandOne
Hashtag: #AThousandAndOne


A Thousand and One

Genre: Crime/Drama

After unapologetic and fiercely loyal Inez kidnaps her son Terry from the foster care system, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City.
A THOUSAND AND ONE opens exclusively in theaters nationwide on March 31, 2023.

ONE-LINER: Times Change. Love stays the same.

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