THE MOVIE GUY — A Mother’s Love on display in “Till.”
Published 12:04 am Friday, October 28, 2022
Directed by Chinonye Chukwu
Starring Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Sean Patrick Thomas and Whoopie Goldberg
3 ½ Stars
There’s a new movie in theaters this weekend that deals with the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi back in 1955.
You might think that the film, “Till,” is simply a dramatization of the lynching that became a rallying cry in the fight for civil rights in America. That is true, to some extent, but I think it’s important to note the surname in the title also belongs to Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.
I mention this because I have had a few conversations with people who have told me they did not want to see this brutal murder up on the silver screen. I certainly understand their reluctance, but I would argue the focus of the movie is actually on the mother and her relentless fight to get justice for her son.
Rather than wallowing in the traumatic details of the murder, “Till” ends up being an inspiring look at a mother’s love and determination in the face of her terrible grief.
Danielle Deadwyler plays the mother, and she is very good, bringing a superb mix of fire and tears to her character. This is easily among the best performances by an actress this year.
She is very good at letting her eyes reveal everything she’s feeling, to devastating effect. There’s one courtroom scene, in particular, where she explains to the jury how a mother’s hands know every inch of her son’s disfigured body.
It’s one of the most powerful pieces of courthouse drama that I’ve ever seen on film.
The other great performance comes from Jalyn Hall, playing Emmett with such likeability that his murder becomes a truly devastating event for the audience, rather than just being a sad fact in a history book.
“Till” would not be nearly as effective without this young actor’s obvious on-screen charisma.
As for the murder itself, which is the thing that seems to be giving so many people pause about this movie, I think director Chinonye Chukwu crafted the right mix of outrage over the murder and respect for the dead.
She takes a long time before showing us Emmett’s body, which is a mercy. But since the real photographs of the brutalized and bloated corpse shocked the nation into action, she has to include it in the film.
The body is only shown a few times, but it still makes quite an impression.
I do understand why that might be a hard limit for some, but I do recommend that you go see this impactful movie. Not only does it deal respectfully with an important event in our national history, but it features superb period design, and of course, those two masterful performances.
My year-end ballots aren’t due for another month, but Deadwyler is at the top of my Best Actress nomination list.
And “Till” ranks right up near the top of my Best Picture list as well.
Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Port Arthur Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at email@example.com.