The historical drama by co-writer/director Chinonye Chukwu, Till, is not an easy watch by any means, especially when the film reaches the point where Emmett is in the south and they come for him in the middle of the night. No, we the viewers do not see the actual violence, but can hear sounds that provide enough to cause some emotion. What did shake me up was the scene when his body is sent back to Chicago and then at the funeral home the body is displayed. It is horror inflicted by human monsters, but to see Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) take her pain and decide to proceed as she does to find justice for her son’s murder, is a performance to behold.
All the performances are wonderful, but Deadwyler is an actor who can convey so much, not only physical, but through her eyes and face. I have no doubt she will be recognized as having one of the best performances this awards season. It is surely one performance to pull out emotions, whether it leads to using a tissue or not. Chukwu presents the story at the beginning with the beautiful relationship this mother and son have in Chicago. Being a mother brings on certain feelings and even more because we know the tragedy to come. The screenplay by Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp, and Chukwu convey this in a loving manner easily felt by the actor’s performances.
14-year-old Emmett is traveling from Chicago, Illinois to Money, Mississippi to visit and learn from family, especially his many cousins. Till worries for her son because she knows how much harsher the hatred and racism is in the south. He doesn’t fully comprehend his behavior in Chicago has to be dialed down some notches in the deep south as they are interpreted very, very differently. After he whistles at a white woman, she reports him and white supremacists murder Emmett.
The screenplay maintains a focus on how Till takes action to become an educator and activist. She wants the murderers brought to justice. She wants the country to learn the story of her son, a minor boy from Chicago killed in Mississippi and the nation takes notice. She is willing to go to the trial and provide testimony for and about her son, but soon learns how they soon shift to have her on trial, more so than the ones who killed her son.
It is a film that should be viewed and learned from despite how many decades ago this was. It is something we should not turn away from, as we know what has happened in even more recent history.
Till releases into Austin theaters on October 21 and goes nationwide on Oct. 28.
Source: Orion Pictures