Directed by Chinonye Chukwu and utilizing extensive research from filmmaker Keith Beauchamp, whose work led to the reopening of the Till case in 2004, Till is based on the life of Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) and her struggle for justice in the 1955 lynching of her 14-year-old son Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall).
Till’s cinematography and editing are lyrical at times, utilizing a lingering frame to highlight the pain and pathos of the events. Deadwyler’s performance is masterful, requiring a complete range of emotional depth. Where the film struggles is in the attempt to tiptoe the line between inspirational story without veering into trauma fetish, with the multiple scenes of wailing Black people straying too far over the line. This is of course a story of trauma, but the tone of the film fails to successfully pivot between an uplifting narrative that it feels the film wants to portray. Sadly, that narrative simply isn’t there in the framework of the film and perhaps that message would’ve been better served with more time spent on the activism and advocacy of Mamie Till-Mobley in the years following Emmett’s lynching.
Ultimately and unfortunately, Till is a film that covers important events, but doesn’t quite feel like it adds enough to the story to be an important film. PG-13, 130 min.