Writer, producer, and director A.V. Rockwell brings the world A Thousand and One. In this unique drama, the streets of New York shine with poverty and frustration. The setting is rough. Despite all the harsh elements, there is meaning behind an individual trying to do something right. It is a thought-provoking film with questions and doubts, but its continuity establishing shots on streets of New York creates a powerful storyline.
The plot of A Thousand and One focuses on a bad deed, but it has a sense of compassion and empathy. The film gears on Inez played by Teyana Taylor. Inez is in a bind due to her own problems. She has financial challenges and her poor choices have set off a whirlwind of endless problems. Inez decides to make a difference in her life and take in a boy named Terry who is from the foster care system. Inez takes Terry illegally to help her have a fresh start in life with a different path. Trying to be motherly proves to be a struggle. Terry, played by Aaron Kingsley Adetola is only six years old when Inez takes responsibility for him. The world is not any easier for Inez or Terry. A Thousand and One strives for continuous change as the film goes forward.
I found Terry’s character to display the biggest emotional factor in A Thousand and One. Inez gets married to a guy named Lucky played by William Catlett. Both Inez and Lucky have a past filled with irrational behaviors, but Lucky has more faith in Terry than Inez. Inez cannot break her frustrating patterns. She is so used to lying and still does it for Terry’s sake. When Terry makes it to thirteen (then played by Aven Courtney), he begins to realize what others have that he is lacking, e.g., a real mother or a real father. Terry is gifted in school, but he does not fully experience that side of his growth. With Inez always struggling and not being the best role model, Terry also finds himself lacking motivation to move his life in the right direction. The film’s realism portrays the many factors regarding how the choices parents or guardians make can impact their children.
As Terry reaches age seventeen (then played by Josiah Cross), most of his life is still in a spiral. A Thousand and One starts to reach the point where the ball is in Terry’s court to make choices. Rockwell’s directing is subtle in terms of where life is for Terry, Inez, and Lucky. Terry’s life is the primary concern featured in the film. He is not the one who originally made poor choices and he does not understand exactly how Inez became his guardian. Terry does not realize that his life filled with dishonesty can have legal consequences. The saddest part of all the restrictions for Terry is that it prevents him from being able to realize how gifted he truly is. A Thousand and One reminded me how in life we must sometimes push ourselves rather than rely on others to help us get back on our feet.
Trial and error are where the light struggles to shine in A Thousand and One. Terry deserves a more rewarding life than Inez. He also deserves to be able to make choices which pose a challenge. What is the right choice for Terry? A mixed dynamic only fuels Terry’s frustration and sadness.
Terry’s struggle to realize he is gifted lit many emotions from my own experience with A Thousand and One. The fact that Inez took him illegally struck me hard because Inez does not know how to parent. She has a good heart, but her issues are nowhere near sorted out for her to take on the responsibility of parenthood. The situation is not fair for Terry and makes you ponder whether he would have a better chance if he had remained in foster care.
A Thousand and One is a story based upon one’s questionable choice. Inez’s intention was not completely wrong but was not morally right either. Inez’s actions impact Terry’s life and may have kept him from the one he deserves. Terry must find a path forward. Will there be a place of peace for Terry or Inez? Find out in A Thousand and One. Three and a half stars.