Plot: “After unapologetic and fiercely loyal Inez kidnaps her son Terry from the foster care system, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City.” -IMDB
Review: Inez de la Paz (Teyana Taylor) has a complicated past and a secret she is keeping from the world. Around the roadblocks and across the burned bridges of her life, her past and this secret will meet in one of the most emotionally raw and gripping stories I have ever seen centered on a mother and son.
When we first meet Inez, she is finishing a prison stay on Rikers Island. How she got here is not important. All that matters is the road before her. Will this road be the fresh start she is seeking, or will it lead back to prison, becoming another sad recidivism statistic?
Determined, she leaves Rikers seeking purpose and a positive outlet. Hoping to open her own salon and to reconnect with her son, Terry, the future seems bright. Pounding the pavement, spreading the news of her business, she crosses paths with Terry for the first time since being released. At six years old, we find the young boy with friends outside of a familiar group home.
At this point in the story, the film takes a fascinating turn and begins pulling at a string that we will spend the rest of the movie unraveling. It begins with Inez “rescuing” Terry from the group home without going through the proper process of ending his foster care. Leaning on her network, she then reconnects with a friend living in Harlem and moves across the city. To complicate matters, she forges a birth certificate and social security card for Terry. Complicating things further, she demands Terry go by a different name when out in public.
At first, we assume this is because she has a record and perhaps does not like her chances of regaining custody of her child. This misdirection will hold its truth until the film’s last scenes.
In a home of their own and a new job, we believe Inez and Terry are turning a corner. Inez reconnects with an old boyfriend, Lucky (William Catlett). Lucky, for all his faults, temptations, and a natural tendency to head for the door when life gets tough, serves as a father figure for Terry at the precise moment he needs one.
Terry, finally, with some stability in his life, begins to excel and prosper in school, but as an audience member, you feel what has been quietly lying below the surface begin to stir. When it finally explodes, bottled-up emotions erupt with the full force of truth. The quiet way in which they reveal all is a testament to the power of restraint in the world of filmmaking. This choice gives deeper meaning to generational trauma, poverty, and what it means to be black in one of America’s richest cities.
Ultimately, this is a film about rising above your complicated beginnings and not being defined by them. It is also about the family we choose and those who choose us. Finally, it is about the unconditional love and support between a mother and son. It is that love that helps Inez and Terry weather the storm before them.
Be good to each other,
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