The Reel Review


Shortly after her release from prison, an impoverished young woman in 1994 New York City kidnaps her son from the foster care system, hoping to create a better life for him despite the many challenges she faces due to a rapidly gentrifying city. Teyana Taylor stars in this crime drama.

Teyana Taylor in A Thousand and One

Taylor gives a riveting, lived-in performance as the scrappy, street-smart single mother struggling to survive in a system of pervasive inequality. The devastating effects of a couple of New York’s early 2000s programs are highlighted – the stop-and-frisk police initiative aimed at reducing crime that targeted a disproportionate large number of racial minorities, as well as a surge in evictions, presumably over substandard housing, that left many already marginalized New Yorkers homeless.

Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley Adetola in A Thousand and One

The biggest challenge in this feature film debut from writer/director A.V. Rockwell is a sluggish story that often lacks focus in its storytelling. It’s a classic case of style over substance, made even more frustrating by a melodramatic final act that feels tacked on. Even so, compelling performances from Taylor and a solid supporting cast still make A Thousand and One and its spotlight on the plight of underprivileged New Yorkers worth a watch.


Teyana Taylor, writer/director A.V. Rockwell,William Catlett, Aaron Kingsley Adetola and Josiah Cross at the January 2023 premiere of A Thousand and One at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

A Thousand and One won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

• Choreographer/Singer/Actress Teyana Taylor (Coming 2 America, Madea’s Big Happy Family) is married to pro basketball player Iman Shumpert. They have two daughters.

A Thousand and One was filmed in New York City in 2021.


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