Saturday 23 March 2024

Movie Review: Till (2022)

Genre: Biographical Drama  
Director: Chinonye Chukwu  
Starring: Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Whoopi Goldberg, Haley Bennett  
Running Time: 130 minutes  

Synopsis: In 1955, Mamie Till (Danielle Deadwyler) lives in Chicago with her 14 year-old son Emmett (Jalyn Hall). Encouraged by his grandma (Whoopi Goldberg) to discover his roots, Emmett is excited about an upcoming solo trip to visit cousins in rural Mississippi. Mamie is uncomfortable being separated from her son and worried about his safety in the overtly racist south. In the small town of Money, Mississippi, Emmett inadvertently insults a white store keeper (Haley Bennett), triggering bigoted rage and a subsequent quest for social justice.

What Works Well: Based on actual events, director and co-writer Chinonye Chukwu crafts a dramatic profile of a woman thrust into activism by tragedy. Emmett's harrowing ordeal is treated with respect, the hatred he suffered channeled through Mamie's insistence that the world witness the carnage on his body. In the complex central role, Danielle Deadwyler navigates a range of transformations starting with worry and ending with defiance, passing through the worst type of grief a mother can experience. 

What Does Not Work As Well: The singular focus on Mamie's perspectives, actions, and emotions is insufficient to sustain 130 minutes of drama. Most of the scenes linger for too long, and many repeatedly stomp over the same emotional notes. The secondary characters, racist villains, social context, and courtroom drama are relegated to stock representations and conveyed with mechanical disinterest. The glossy sets lack realistic grit, while the music digs into the trench of obvious emotions.

Conclusion: One strong woman in deep focus, surrounded by sketches.

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