Till is a tricky film to watch but it's one that absolutely deserves to be seen. Director Chinonye Chukwu follows up her 2019 film Clemency with this true story about Mamie Till (Danielle Deadwyler) and her pursuit of justice following the lynching of her fourteen year old son Emmet Till (Jalyn Hall).
In 1955 Emmett leaves Chicago, and his mum behind to go and stay with his cousins and great uncle in Mississippi and what follows makes Till is a deeply devastating tale of loss and grief. We spend surprisingly little amount of time with Emmett, and the majority of the film follows Deadwyler's Mamie Till but nonetheless, in his brief amount of screen time, Hall shows us what a joyous and wonderful boy Emmett was which only makes what follows even more harrowing.
After Emmett tells Haley Bennet's Carolyn how she looks like a movie star and the local convenience store, fatal consequences follow despite the fact that he didn't know any better. His mother had warned him of the dangers down south and that he needed to be careful but Emmett didn't realise quite what that meant for him.
Whilst Till chooses to avoid actually showing Emmett's murder, it doesn't need to. The minute he gets separated from his family you know exactly what's going to happen despite his innocent act of kindness. Instead, Till opts to show us his body after the lynching and that only makes it even more horrifying to watch.
Danielle Deadwyler is a tour de force as she gives one of the greatest acting performances of the decade. There are numerous times throughout Till where Chukwu will hold a really long take that's just a close up on Deadwyler because that's all we need to see. Deadwyler's acting tells us everything we need to know in the scene and nothing else matters beyond Mamie Till's love for her son.
Abel Korzeniowski's score is incredibly moving and perhaps there are times when the film over-relies on this score to keep the emotion flowing and to keep you engrossed however between Korzeniowski's score and Deadwyler's performance, you really can't tear your eyes away from the screen.
It's absolutely heart breaking to watch and whilst it does feel quite familiar in its telling of racism and, from a filmmaking perspective, doesn't re-invent this type of film, that shouldn't matter. It's a story that needs to be seen and remembered by people around the world and Chinonye Chukwu does justice to both Mamie and Emmett Till with her film.
Till is a difficult film to watch but it's heart-wrenching and deeply affecting and deserves to be seen.
Till screened at the BFI London Film Festival and releases in UK cinemas on January 13th.