Focus Features’ A Thousand And One is a film that the urban community has been demanding from Hollywood for years. The film embraces culture and feels like a Spike Lee piece from the 1990s. The film premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2023, and won the grand jury prize.
A Thousand And One follows Inez de la Paz (Teyana Taylor), who, on her first day out of Rikers, runs into her six-year-old son, whom she left to the system. After an incident where Terry is injured, she takes Terry into her care without the system knowing and promises to give him the life she never had. The film takes moviegoers through their many ups and downs over eleven years.
A.V. Rockwell did a great job with writing and directing. This wasn’t the generic story we had seen countless times on the big screen. The script was a love letter highlighted by the struggles of the everyday single mother. It centered on black love, which we’ve seen less of in movies, and our culture’s dark and bright side.
The film’s second half focuses on Inez, Terry, who is now 16, and Inez’s boyfriend/husband, Lucky (Will Catlett). There is a ton of emotion poured into this portion of the story. The scenes with Taylor and Catlett are perfect. There weren’t many scenes centered on these two, which is great because the writing was so good that you don’t need extended time to understand why at times, they’re at odds and, other times, why they’re on cloud nine.
Aaron Kingsley Adetola played six-year-old Terry, Aven Courtney thirteen-year-old Terry, and Josiah Cross seventeen-year-old Terry. Each of these actors played their role well, but Cross successfully brought tears from your eyes during the third half. He embraces his character so well that you can feel his character’s pain and want to reach out to help him.
The sections that took place in the 1990s through the early 2000s felt authentic, from the hairstyles to the broken-down buildings in Harlem to the clothes. You feel as though you’re back in time, and this is coming from a born and raised New Yorker.
A Thousand and One brings something that moviegoers have been without: relatable content and black love. Teyana Taylor was fantastic and carried the film on her back with assistance from Josiah Cross and Will Catlett.
A Thousand and One will hit theaters on March 31, 2023.