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Quick Review: Till
Witness The Power Of A Mother's Love
The following is my review for the film Till. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I score films when I review them.
The true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her fourteen year old son, Emmett Till, who in 1955 was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi.
Some have argued that in 2022 after we’ve had an African American President elected twice and a currently sitting African American woman as Vice President, that we don’t need “black trauma” movies like Till. That re-visiting such dark periods in history of a people with weeks until we get to see an all-black cast in a major Marvel film with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, that its unnecessary and we should try to move on to tell more positive stories.
On one hand I can empathize with that. For too long Hollywood’s major studios have leaned onto presenting black stories through films that explore the trials and tribulation that their community has had to endure and barely put any money into promoting more accessible and positive stories for them to be leads of. But now the black community can see themselves on the big screen depicted as superheroes, sports icons, family dramas, animated films, and so on.
But most of those “black trauma” films have been told through a white gaze. And there remains still many stories to tell about some black and civil rights history that has been re-written or outright attempted to be hidden by certain people in power. For example, We just started to have a more expansive conversation of the Tulsa massacre from the twenties even though its been a hundred years!
And with Till we get to see the story through a black gaze via Director Chinonye Chukwu - who also co-wrote the screenplay. We also get to learn of the lesser known heroics of Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley played by Danielle Deadwyler in a performance that is easily one of the top five in a year where we’ve been graced with so many amazing female-lead turns.
Many might be worried that the movie will show too much when it comes to the murder of Emmitt Till. After all we do spend some time with him as he inevitably and unknowingly heads towards his tragic fate, via a good performance from a young Jalyn Hall. But we don’t see the actual murder and the movie is much more about the grief and the aftermath of the murder and how Mamie was able to comport herself with dignity and class through the worst thing that ever happened in her life. How she took that grief and turned it into political and civil action.
Don’t get me wrong. There are tough parts to watch. There are parts that will make you furious. There are parts that might make you feel dread and hopelessness. But the movie still leaves those little rays of hope throughout of the future to come and in how Mamie is able to persevere. While this movie does have some depressing scenes, its not an overall depressing movie. If anything its a movie that should make you realize that even sixty-seven years after Till’s death there is still work to be done.
The movie should also be praised for its great direction, score, cinematography, costumes, and production design. There’s also decent performance from Whoopi Goldberg as Mamie’s mother, Frankie Faison as Mamie’s father, Haley Bennett as Carolyn Bryant among others.
This might be the most, if not one of the most, important movie of the year. Yes I question its re-watchability a bit given how much of a gut punch some scenes are, but this is a great film anchored by a lead performance that will knock your socks off and is absolutely in the higher-tier of movies this year.
If you need more of a reason as to why such a film should exist in this modern age, I can think of one scene where Emmitt is traveling down from Chicago to Mississippi via train. Once they cross into the deep souths borders, all the black passengers have to walk to the back. Watching that scene I couldn’t help but think of how many people watching the movie with me might have asked themselves how human beings just accepted that kind of treatment of other human beings. And then I think about how a vocal and not too small minority in this country who are poised to win power next week want to punish LGBTQ members for merely existing, want them erased all together. How the black community’s voting rights are still under attack even in my own state by a Governor that is poised to win re-election easily come next week. How politicians use the hatred of groups of people to win over their votes (and unfortunately to pretty good success). A movie like this absolutely deserves a place in 2022 because sadly it remains relevant and we need the Mamie Tills of the world.