If you had all day and all night to understand your life…where would you begin? Some begin with those familiar faces from the block who just disappeared and you wonder where they went. Some are teens arrested over a bag of weed and now are the prison OG’s spending their entire lives behind bars. Generations of men…brothers, uncles, cousins sharing part of the same story on repeat. Welcome to Jahkor’s view of the world.
Jahkor (Ashton Sanders) never wanted to be like his father JD (Jeffrey Wright), and his father never wanted to see his son in prison. Yet somehow finding themselves together as inmates seemed inevitable. In an unlikely journey of self-discovery, Jakhor explores the dangerous world that unites them, hoping to help his newborn son break a cycle that feels inescapable.
Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole brings a whole new lens to the trajectory of generational black men going down the rabbit hole of lock up. What I love most about this film is the reverence given to the maternal figures. Cole shows the respect a young Jah gives his mother, grandmother and girlfriend and the love they give in return despite his volatile and unpredictable behavior. A behavior and attitude which has obviously been learned and unconsciously copied from his father.
In one of the most heartbreaking scenes, young Jah begs his Dad’s dealer to cease selling drugs to his Dad. The dealer’s responded with a smiling smirk “…he’s my best customer.” It is that moment you know Jahkor has changed forever. On the flip side, there is one moment with JD and Jahkor’s Mom (Kelly Jenerette) that will make you cringe from being so incredibly uncomfortable, but an intense filled great acting moment.
These types of films are always really hard to watch. As a woman of color, I grow weary of watching our men feel like they have no options in life depicted on screen. At the end of the day, it’s just like slavery which taught Black people how to survive…yet not how to live. For it is in that moment we truly recognize our real power as a people. The power to become whatever we want if we just believe. We may be born in prison due to color of our skin, but we are NOT prisoners.
All Day and A Night is streaming on NETFLIX now.