“Nobody else give a shit about Black women except for other Black women — and even that shit get messy!” [sic]
It’s one of the last lines you’ll hear Teyana Taylor recite as Inez de la Paz in her debut lead performance in a feature film with A Thousand And One, already an award-winning project after nabbing the grand jury prize at Sundance Film Festival 2023 back in January.
With that said, we guarantee it’s the one that not only captivates the movie’s core theme but also the one that leaves a lasting impression.
In A.V. Rockwell’s breakout role as both writer and director of A Thousand and One, in addition to Lena Waite on the production end and Taylor as lead actress, the project evokes the power of Black women from all creative aspects. The film, which promotes the tagline, ‘Times Change. Love Stays The Same,’ takes place at three separate times in the life of Inez starting in 1994 and progressing into 2001 before concluding in 2005.
The ’90s portion of the film is where you get an introduction into who Inez is and how she finds herself in the predicament of fleeing from Brooklyn to Harlem to illegally smuggle her son out of foster care. The early 2000s portions set in ’01 and ’05, respectively, show the hardening of Inez and everyone around her, with a surprise ending that will have many viewers questioning right from wrong when intentions are pure. While Teyana stays consistent in the role of Inez, her son is given three powerful performances by rising actors Aaron Kingsley Adetola as 6-year-old Terry, Aven Courtney as 13-year-old Terry and Josiah Cross as 17-year-old Terry.
The cast rounds out with Will Catlett (12 O’Clock Boys, Charm City Kings) as Inez’s love interest Lucky, and Terri Abney (Loving, Greenleaf) as best friend Kim Jones. A host of other supporting characters fill in roles that give their NYC setting all the more humanity — the landlord, the other woman, the caseworker that uproots everything — ultimately giving the film a breadth to reach cult status in the likes of classics like Raising Victor Vargas (2002) and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete (2013).
As a lead actress, Teyana Taylor shines in a way unlike anything we’ve seen her in before. Where her leading role in Honey: Rise And Dance (2018) focused on promoting her real-life career as a dancer, and supporting roles like Coming 2 America (2021) and Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011) were extensions of her humorous persona, A Thousand and One challenges the multi-hyphenated entertainer to tap into a vulnerability and rawness that will send chills down your spine. You truly feel the raspiness in her voice in one point of the film as she pleads to Lucky, “Show up for me,” and can easily be brought to tears in another part as she tearfully eats Cup Noodles while watching Ricki Lake and lamenting on her life.
In short, A Thousand And One is a film that will help you understand more clearly about the unbreakable relationship between a mother and son, the dynamics of living in NYC during three prominent eras of change in the Big Apple and ultimately another great tale of a Black woman’s strength.
A Thousand And One starring Teyana Taylor is officially in theaters as of today, courtesy of Focus Features, Sight Unseen, Hillman Grad and Makeready. Watch the full trailer below:
Review: Teyana Taylor Shines As Powerful Female Lead In ‘A Thousand And One’ was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
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