TILL Review – Riveting, Emotionally Gripping, Resonating

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TILL, from MGM/Orion Pictures, presents a riveting re-creation of the story of Emmitt Till, the 14-year-old African American boy murdered, beaten and lynched, while on a two week visit with his cousins in Mississippi in 1955.

 

The film begins with Mamie Till-Mobley, played by Danielle Deadwyler and Emmitt, played by Jalyn Hall singing together as they make finish last minute preparations for Emmitt’s trip to Mississippi. He is gregarious, larger than life, funny, secure, and happy. We meet his grandmother, Alma, played by Whoopi Goldberg and his mother’s fiancé Gene Mobley, played by Sean Patrick Thomas on the night before he is heading to Mississippi to visit his cousins.


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Emmitt has been raised in Chicago, his entire belief system is northern where there is no overt segregation, no separation, no signs of racial hatred, and while we see glimpses of racial discrimination, he is 14, a fun-loving kid, who has been protected by a fierce, loving, mother.

She tries to explain the different set of rules and tries to implore him to “be small” in his mind, which has only known protection, the words are shrugged off. We begin to see the division of color worlds on the train when the Negros are forced to move to the back.

We understand we have gone back in time to a place where generations of racial hatred ruled over the Negro, where slaves were bought and sold, and humanity ceased to exist. And worse, the property of the white man had been freed, and now, those who once ruled are forced to coexist.


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One week into Emmitt’s trip, he enters a Bryant’s Grocery, unaccompanied. Working the cash register is Carolyn Bryant, played by Haley Bennett. Emmitt sees her and tells her she looks like a movie star. And while he has no idea the line he crossed; she is insulted. She follows him out of the store, where in front of everyone he whistles at her.

The cousins refused to tell Emmitt’s Uncle, Moses Wright, played by John Douglas Thompson, what had happened and by Friday, they thought the whole incident had blown over. That night, Carolyn Bryant’s husband and a mob came and took him.

We don’t see the violence inflicted on Emmitt, what we do see is the remains. A bloated distorted body, whipped shredded legs, mangled, beaten, facial features. Emmitt had been beaten, lynched, shot in the head, and thrown in the river.


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It is here that TILL, through the heartache, the deep soul stirring anguish of a mother’s loss, turns his death into life, fueled by the desire for justice, she works with other African American leaders to exact change. As we understand injustice is a cruel companion, she walks on demanding, facing death, walking into the deep south, testifying.

TILL is a heart wrenching historical account of the murder of Emmitt Till. It is difficult to say this is such a good film as it is filled with unquenching anguish, generational, indoctrinated hate and yet as a film it hits every point. The nuances of the time, the two very different color worlds, are all authentic.

Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Mobley leads the ensemble with performances that draw from a deep well of emotion. The intensity, the moments of anguish from the deepest part of the soul, is palpable. It translates and is felt.

An emotional and moving journey with electrifying performances, TILL opens exclusively in theaters October 14, 2022. A must see.


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Country: U.S.

Language: English.

Runtime: 130 minutes.

Release Date: October 14, 2022.

Director: Chinonye Chukwu.

Producer: Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Thomas Levine, Michael Reilly, Frederick Zollo.

Writer: Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp, Chinonye Chukwu.

Cast: Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Whoopi Goldberg, John Douglas Thompson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tosin Cole, Jayme Lawson, Haley Bennett, Frankie Faison.

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