A Thousand and One Parent Guide
The success of this complex film is all down to Teyena Taylor's fierce portrayal of a very determined mother.
Parent Movie Review
Freshly released from Riker’s Island, Inez (Teyana Taylor) is determined to get her son, Terry (played at this age by Aaron Kingsley Adetola) back and move on with her life. She makes the decision that, rather than messing around with the bureaucracy-riddled foster care system, she’s just going to take him – a decision that amounts to kidnapping in the eyes of the law. Inez isn’t about to let a little thing like that stop her, and forges ahead with her new life.
Once she finds a place to live and a job, Inez obtains a fake birth certificate and social insurance number to get Terry into school, and sets about doing her best to give him all the opportunities she never had. Along the way, she runs into, and falls in love with, Lucky (William Catlett). While their relationship isn’t exactly stable, he helps mediate some of the growing tension between Terry and his mother – a tension not helped by the secret crime she committed to get him back. (The tension is further complicated by another secret that Inez is perfectly happy to keep to herself.) As the two continue to work out their relationship in an ever-changing New York, both Inez and Terry learn a few things about what family means to them.
While the nest of lies and secrets upon which Inez and Terry build their lives makes the movie sound pretty thrilling, this is primarily a melodrama about their relationship. It isn’t some tense adventure with Inez shifting apartments in the middle of the night to dodge social welfare or anything, so if that’s what you’re looking for, keep looking. A Thousand and One is an emotionally charged family drama about how expectations and reality never quite seem to align, and how people make the best of what they have. Inez, for all her emotionally prickly personality traits, is a determined, hardworking mother who will stop at nothing to build a better life for her boy – with her bare hands, if necessary.
The only way this kind of story works is if the casting for Inez is just about perfect, and it is. Teyana Taylor is positively riveting. Even if you disagree with her character’s choices, you can’t help but sympathize with her profound vulnerability and unwillingness to ask for help. She’s going to make it her way or no way. Taylor’s performance is captivating, and really brings life to the film’s slightly slower-paced, emotional story.
A Thousand and One isn’t going to be a winner with family audiences, mostly because of the volume of profanity throughout, but also because Inez smokes like a chimney for the entire runtime. Older teens, though, might get something out of this deeply personal portrayal of a mother and her child making the best of a hard world which keeps changing around them.Directed by A.V. Rockwell. Starring Teyena Taylor, Josiah Cross, Will Catlett, Aaron Kingsley Adetola. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release March 31, 2023. Updated March 31, 2023
Watch the trailer for A Thousand and One
A Thousand and One
Rating & Content Info
Why is A Thousand and One rated R? A Thousand and One is rated R by the MPAA for language
Violence: Several people are shoved or hit.
Sexual Content: There are a number of sexual innuendos and references to prostitution. There is a brief scene of male posterior nudity in a sexual context.
Profanity: There are more than 29 sexual expletives, and at least 12 scatological curses. There are also frequent uses of mild profanities and terms of deity. There are also frequent uses of racial slurs, and occasional use of homophobic slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen smoking cigarettes, and occasionally seen drinking socially.
Page last updated March 31, 2023
A Thousand and One Parents' Guide
Why does Inez decide to take Terry? What would you have done in her place? How has the foster care system failed both children and parents? Does it have any successes? What makes life so difficult in the foster care system? What makes it so difficult for the system to succeed? How does race affect outcomes in both the foster care and educational systems?
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Other well-received films about African-American experiences include The Last Black Man in San Francisco, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Raisin in the Sun, Fences, Fruitvale Station, and Moonlight. A classic film about living with race in New York city is Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.