TILL – A Review by Cynthia Flores

TILL – A Review by Cynthia Flores

Till has a one-small-word title, but it packs a mighty emotional punch. The new film from Nigerian-American director/co-writer Chinonye Chukwu is sometimes difficult to watch. There is a reason that Chinonye was the first black woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2019 for her other film, Clemency. This director is comfortable dealing with topics most won’t touch. Her cinematic style is not jerky and is filled with fast-paced cuts. Instead, it reminds me of foreign films with a steady and deliberate pace that sets you down firmly into their story.  

Till is an emotional and lush film about the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler). The film tells the story of her dogged pursuit of justice for her fourteen-year-old son, Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall). In 1955 Mamie and Till lived up North in Chicago, where it was safer to be black in America. However, at the urging of her mother, Alma Carthan (Whoopi Goldberg), Mamie gives in to the request that Till goes down to Mississippi and visits his cousins for two weeks. While there, the teenager was lynched. In Mamie’s tormented journey of grief turned to action, we see the power of a mother’s love to help change the world. 

The cinematography of Bobby Bukowski is lush and moody. Combined with the score from composer Abel Korzeniowski and the fantastic costumes and production work in Till, the audience is transported to life in 1950s Chicago and Mississippi. All of this artistry is held in place by the steady and heartbreaking performance of Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie. When she cries at her only child’s body’s return, the whole theater cries along with her. This is a fantastic career-defining performance for the talented actress.

When the director was asked why she chose to make Mamie the center of the film in a story about Emmett Till, she is quoted as saying:

“When I was approached to write and direct the story about Emmett Till, I found myself drawn to a singular figure at the center of his orbit. I saw an opportunity to subvert expectations and approached the narrative through another lens – from the maternal point of view of Mamie Till-Mobley.” She goes on to say, “Had it not been for Mamie, her son’s memory would have evaporated into thin air. She was the catalyst for a modern-day civil rights movement that has laid an honorable framework for future activists and freedom fighters. I felt compelled to Champion Mamie’s legacy and Center her in the spotlight where she rightfully belongs.” 

I give Till 4.5-stars. It’s an important movie that everyone should see with award-worthy performances. People will be talking about this movie and the American historical truth it represents.

 

Directed by: Chinonye Chukwu

Written by: Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp, Chinonye Chukwu

Rated: PG- 13

Selig Rating: 4.5 Stars

Running Time: 2h 10min

Drama / Historical

Release: In select DFW theaters only on October 21st and wide release Oct 28th

Starring: Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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