‘…Danielle Deadwyler’s huge leading performance should ensure that Till has a permanent shelf-life as a record of the agony that racism can create…’

Barbara Broccoli and Whoopi Goldberg amongst the producers on this high-profile civil-rights drama from Chinonye Chukwu, who made a pretty bang-up job of 2019’s Clemency, and seems an ideal choice for a harrowing, real-life story. Mamie-Till Bradley saw the thing that, as the cliché goes, a parent should never have to; her son Emmett’s body, dead on a coroner’s slab at 14 years of age, murdered by racists in back in 1955. In previous times, we might have seen these events from a white perspective, a neighbour, a lawyer, a friend. But it’s 2023, and the story is correctly seen from the POV of those who hurt the most ie the mother.

Till came out to little audience appreciation at the box-office in the US back in October; tough-sell prestige pictures really need awards to gain traction with the public these days. But Till is an important story worth championing; Chicago parent Mamie-Till (Danielle Deadwyler) dotes on her son Emmett (Jayln Hall), and reluctantly allows him to travel to Mississippi for work. Emmett forgets her instructions long enough to carelessly transgress his enforced social position; wolf whistling at a white grocery clerk is enough to trigger the insecurities of those around him and leads to his violent death. That’s mid-way through the story; the rest of the film finds an upbeat trajectory as Mamie-Till rejects the courtroom verdict and sets out to make equality her mission.

We’ve been here before with films like Selma, but Till is one of the better examples of how a news story from the past can be instructive now; it’s a character study of a woman, and the violence that she faces up to is kept almost entirely off-screen. What’s on screen is an unflinching view of personal heroics as Mamie transcends her position to become a leader with a cause. The key scene here depicts Till viewing her own dead son’s horrific appearance as a corpse, but an earlier scene in the grocery is equally carefully conveyed; Chukwu ably handles Emmett’s sudden disbelief about how easily his world is turned on its head. A series of closing credits reinforce our understanding of how the decks were set against the Till family; the killers confessed, the witnesses lied, and absolutely no-one was brought to justice.

Although there are moments of sentimentality, some shonky green-screen and a few moments where the constant emphasis on Mamie’s agony feels oppressive, Till is a film worth recommending to those who can handle the central subject; producer and supporting player Whoopi Goldberg even gives herself a big dramatic scene that’s far more than a cameo. Hopefully Till will finally reach an appreciative audience on home entertainment; Danielle Deadwyler’s huge leading performance should ensure that Till has a permanent shelf-life as a record of the agony that racism can create.


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  1. My mind was blown when I read about Emmett and his Mother, not in a good way obvs. I was upset +++ at the time so I’ll give this a miss, it needs an audience who don’t know it to make a big impact. Though I wonder if anyone cares anymore anyway. Glad they did a good job on this.

    • They did a very good job, but trigger warning have to be attached for an upsetting story told in a way that doesn’t spare our feelings. I knew the story but didn’t know the details and am still upset tbf.

    • Yup, it’s out of cinemas, but only streaming on premium for now. will probably get a bigger audience when it goes to prime…

      • For price, I just looked and dune is still commanding a $15 price tag to “buy” the digital version.
        Do you think rentals outpace buys for streaming? If so, what does that mean for staying power of movies? If a company can make a movie disappear simply by not releasing the rights, isn’t that potentially even more catastrophic than the movie disappearances from the 60-80’s?

        • These are great talking points. I think 15 bucks is too much. The majority of views will just settle for something free to view. But that means large audiences watching something other than what they want, which is bad. Filmmakers get more income by licensing a film for Netflix, Prime or whatever than they do from individual sales to customers. So we’re a long way from the days when ordinary people bought films; it’s all just sludge these days, fillers in the hope of something good turning up tomorrow.

          • Do you think people care what they watch? I know I don’t (I’ll happily put SpongeBob on in the background for 3hrs) but as we both know, I’m such an outlier that I’m not even on the movie graph.

            So the days of owning are winding down. I find that scary because entertainment usually shows where a society is heading.

            • Disposable culture, without meaning for an audience. That’s where we’re headed. Always paying subscriptions, but never actually seeing what you want and being left with nothing at the end of the day. It’s a bait and switch…

          • We used to buy a fair amount of Blurays but were saying the other day that we haven’t for ages, we just stream them.

            A kind of relevant question – I thought paramount + was added to amazon and free to prime users, am sure I watched something on it that way, but when I went to watch Maverick then found you can have a trial for a week then pay £6.99 or similar per month. Do you know what’s going on?

            • There is a problem in that HD streaming is not different enough from blu-ray; why pay £20 for a viewing experience that is hardly different at all?

              Paramount + is part of the prime set up, but is an additional channel like bfi, shudder, lionsgate. I’d mop up as much as you can on a free trial and then decide if there’s enough for an extension. One day, your aggregator sub will include multiple good channels, but right now, you have to pay for them over and above…

              • I have apple, Disney, Prime, Netflix and sky, it’s more than enough so paramount can go something rude itself. We’ll get Maverick on 2nd hand bluray eventually. Thanks for explanations.

                For all you say HD streaming is not different enough from bluray, I think Phil would say it so is. Not the picture for sure, but the sound quality is way above anything the aforementioned streamers put out. We’ve done a few AB tests on that. If we stream a movie and are impressed with the soundtrack, Phil will buy the Bluray and we are even more impressed. But most people don’t have the equipment that we have to appreciate that ( I mean we have 11 speakers in our Tv room, some I. The ceiling 🙄🤣) so in that way you are right, not much difference through your bose soundbar or whatever. ( not yours specifically just in general).

                • I suspect that you are correct when it comes to sound, and I’ve been generous in my praise about some Blu-ray extras. The race here it to be your aggregator; at some point Apple or Amazon are going to offer all of your channels for a reduced price IF you go through them. That’s why Lionsgate, paramount and others are launching now, with quite steep prices. If I offer you all the channels you have, and a dozen more, for £25 a month for two years, you’ll probably take it. It’s about establishing an unaffordable value then offering you a reduction.

                  Top Gun Maverick is £8 from CEX second hand right now and totally worth every Penny. Fact!

                    • I offer you Alex a five year subscription to see Mel Gibson’s Maverick for just 30 dollars a month. Just for you!

                      To me, these subscriptions are overpriced, and aggregators will sell themselves on bringing the price down.

                    • Yeah, it sounds like the current marketplace is too crowded an expensive to be sustainable. I don’t know how it’s working out for these guys, what sort of money they’re making. Should be a good business book on this out there, or coming soon since everything is still in flux.

                      Maverick, the real Maverick, was one of my mom’s favourite movies. She really liked Mel.

        • And the last part; yes, films are being edited and buried for commercial reasons, and that isn’t a good state of affairs either.

          • Is the jolly Roger a topic you’d discuss in this regards? (Not promote mind you, but simply discuss in the light of availability, etc?) If not, I completely understand.

                • I do, can’t review from a torrent! I do look sometimes to see what is out there, but it’s not an option. I guess charging fifteen bucks for a movie increases the value when it goes to an affordable streaming channel, for for a film that’s been out for 18 months like Dune, that’s steep!

    • Agreed, but these film used to exist on the back of mainstream drama, which currently seems like a dead genre in cinema.

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