‘A Thousand and One’ Review – Sundance 2023

A Thousand and One: Directed by A.V. Rockwell

SYNOPSIS: Struggling but unapologetically living on her own terms, Inez is moving from shelter to shelter in mid-1990s New York City. With her 6-year-old son Terry in foster care and unable to leave him again, she kidnaps him so they can build their life together. As the years go by, their family grows and Terry becomes a smart yet quiet teenager, but the secret that has defined their lives threatens to destroy the home they have so improbably built.

A Thousand and One broke me down to pieces. A film that peaked my interest on the synopsis alone, left me completely entranced from start to finish. Seeing that Focus Features had already picked it up also left me feeling fairly confident that it was going to be very good, and I can report that it is very good overall. Every year at Sundance there is a fair share of highly impactful dramas that take center stage and showcase some of the absolute best in filmmaking and this falls in that category. 

This project thrives on the back of the performances. We cover a lot of ground in the runtime and the performances continue to shine from the very start to the very end. Josiah Cross is a standout, delivering a very subtle, but impactful effort. The ending for him is the shining moment that we see buildup throughout the entire film. The star of the show though is Teyana Taylor. She really is the heart and soul of this movie delivering one of the best performances I’ve seen so far this year. While you don’t always like her character, there is no denying that she brings one of the best efforts at any film at Sundance this year. The supporting cast is solid as well but it is Cross and Taylor that deserve the flowers.

This film is raw. There is no other way to describe it. A brutal look at imperfect human beings that are looking to bring a perfect life to the ones that they love. Sometimes hard to root for, but in the end, you just want them to be happy. You can see where the movie is going for the most part, but when the twist is revealed at the end, it completely turns you for a 180. I actually really bought into it and liked the emotion that it elicited. The writing works. It tells a family story that also examines the city itself. Highly layered, but executed well. 

FINAL: A Thousand and One is a very solid outing from director A.V. Rockwell that features some impactful performances and very emotional writing. A methodical look at a family wanting a good life. A raw and sometimes hard watch that packs an emotion filled punch at the very end with a really shocking twist that you won’t see coming. One of the more solid films to come out of Sundance this year. 

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 13

15 for Performances: 14

10 for Entertainment: 8

10 for Direction: 9

10 for Emotions: 9

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 12

5 for Rewatchability: 4

5 for Automatic: 5

A Thousand and One: 86/100

Jack Lautaret is a Banana Meter approved film critic, Host of the Jack Lautaret YouTube Channel and writer for Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret


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