“A Thousand and One” Showcases Incredible Journey of a Mother and a City

A.V. Rockwell’s A Thousand and One (B+) is a glorious parallel tale about motherhood against all odds set against an unfolding story of gentrification in Harlem in the ‘90s and 2000s. Teyana Taylor is brilliant as the unapologetic and free-spirited Inez who kidnaps her 6-year-old son Terry from the foster care system. Together mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity and stability in a rapidly changing town while harboring secrets. A talented Josiah Cross shares several gripping sequences opposite Taylor as her character’s young adult son (played earlier in life by Aaron Kingsley at age 6 and Aven Courtney at age 13). Will Catlett also gives a winning performance as Lucky, her love interest. The film will have audiences questioning whether Inez is making good choices but never doubting the sincerity of her maternal love. Rockwell also plumbs issues of erasure as literal human lives and real plights seem to be wiped away in the name of NYC’s progress. The soundtrack music by Gary Gunn is brisk and propulsive, dotted with radio voices of mayors prattling about jaywalking and other inconsequential issues while the film’s central characters seek food or shelter for the night. It’s an effective movie with tear jerking moments but an indomitable spirit. And a star is born in Taylor.

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