A young woman of color’s struggle to remake her life after serving time in prison is conveyed with deep emotion in Thousand and One, an influential first feature from AV Rockwell, who honed his skills on popular short films and commercials. Led by Teyana Taylor’s performance of the swagger of youth that develops through a series of challenges to achieve hard-won self-control, the Focus Features release is a tender, at times painful portrait. about the fragile but loving relationship between a mother and son, both spitting. out of the foster care system. It is also a rich reminder of New York City during a difficult period of accelerated makeover and discriminatory policy.
In particular, Harlem’s rough textures, hot colors, and vibrant street life make that historic neighborhood a protagonist much like Taylor’s Inez De La Paz, a hairstylist who meets her for the first time. in 1993 while she was serving at Rikers. A year later, she lives in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn and struggles to find work but is determined to stay out of trouble.
Thousand and One
Good action and attractive.
When Inez first meets her 6-year-old son Terry (Aaron Kingsley Adetola), he reluctantly talks to her, still suspicious after she dumps him on the street. But the boy is hospitalized after an accident at his foster home and she begins to visit, overpowering the boy with a Power Ranger toy. Inez tells him she’s about to be moved to a new shelter but gives him her pager number and vows to find him. “Why do you keep leaving me?” he asked, prompting her to impulsively decide to take him to Harlem.
Rockwell traces their lives together for more than 15 years, with Terry played by Aven Courtney at 13 and Josiah Cross at 17, the seamless transition between the three actors recalling similar developments in Moonlight.
While the news of the Brooklyn boy’s abduction worried Inez at first, she and Terry began to comfortably move into a new life together as she found a job and an affordable apartment. She also received a fake ID for Terry, now named Darrell, which enabled him to attend school. He was an intelligent student, which opened up promising possibilities when he reached college age. But it also means more paperwork is needed, threatening to reveal their shared secret and tearing them apart again.
Rockwell’s sympathetic gaze makes us always support both Inez and Terry as the growing pains of his teenage years create friction between them. She continues a romance with Lucky (Will Catlett) after he gets out of prison. He provided a father figure to Terry but also made him unfairly blame Inez when fights kept him away for weeks at a time.
All three actors who play Terry capture the pain of a child who has grown accustomed to disappointment as a child and is always on the lookout for signs that he will drift again. Inez seemed painfully aware of that tension in her son. Both of them are wounded people, so is Lucky, which creates a melancholy vein even through scenes where the fragile family unit finds moments of harmony.
Taylor is especially good at showing how the stress of keeping them together – giving more than receiving from Lucky or Terry – eats away at her. A scene where she laughs and cries while eating a cup of instant noodles and watching a crazy reality TV show pierces the heart.
There is a tortuous quality to Thousand and One that sometimes makes it feel a little weak and too long. But the film is completely inhabited and its relationships are drawn with love and compassion for the failures of the characters and their hopes, qualities enhanced by the score. mellow by Gary Gunn.
What makes the picture so much more expansive than the home and family focus is the insightful observation of changes to the fabric of life in New York City during Giuliani’s time as mayor and in the years ahead. year Bloomberg. The crackdown on street crime led to racial profiling and stop-and-go policies aimed at people of color, meaning Terry was slammed into a wall as he was simply walking home from school. . And the rampant development benefits property owners while disposing of longtime residents of the entire neighborhood.
That process – with new landlords mercilessly taking on maintenance responsibilities and forcing tenants out by making the homes essentially uninhabitable – is represented by all sorts of indifference. its ruthlessness. It pours another major crisis on Inez’s shoulders as she is dealing with a grieving loss and is faced with the dilemma of what to do for Terry’s future. Then, Rockwell completely changed the perspective by revealing the ending that showed Inez’s sacrifice in a new light.
Shot by DP Eric K. Yue with a keen eye on the city’s development and its impact on marginalized communities, the film benefits greatly from the authenticity of the locations and director’s sensitivity to the damage caused by social change. It’s a quiet drama despite the many unstable arguments of the characters. Above all, it’s a moving character portrait of a complicated woman who makes good and bad decisions but is motivated only by her desire to create a better life for herself and those around her. the person she loves.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival (US Dramatic Competition)
Distribution: Centralization feature
Production company: Sight Unseen, Hillman Grad, MakeReady
Actors: Teyana Taylor, Josiah Cross, Will Catlett, Aaron Kingsley Adetola, Aven Courtney, Terry Victoria Abney, Delissa Reynolds, Amelia Workman, Mark Gessner, John Maria Gutierrez, Adriane Lenox
Director-Writer: AV Rockwell
Producers: Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Brad Weston
Executive Producers: Oren Moverman, Rachel Jacobs, Leonid Lebedev, AV Rockwell, Jamin O’Brien
Director of Photography: Eric K. Yue
Production designer: Sharon Lomofsky
Costume designer: Melissa Vargas
Music: Gary Gunn
Editors: Sabine Hoffman, Kristan Sprague
Actor: Avy Kaufman
1 hour 54 minutes