It’s been 67 years since the death of Emmett Till, but Till (2022) manages to convey the very-present horrors of racial prejudice that seemed so long ago. Emmett Till’s lynching and the injustice of his murder trial were major contributors to the Civil Rights Movement, mainly because of his mother – whom this movie centres on.

Mamie Till (Danielle Deadwyler) is the mother of 14-year-old Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall), who is sent alone to Mississippi to visit his relatives. Only having grown up in the more forward Chicago, he is unaware of the more backward and racist culture of then-Mississippi, where lynchings were still common. After an incident with a Caucasian shopkeeper, Carolyn Bryant (Haley Bennett), he is violently lynched and drowned. Upon his brutalised body returning to Chicago, Mamie then sets out to receive justice for her son.

The movie managed to depict the brutality of Emmett’s murder without showing the murder itself. His corpse, recreated through special effects, managed to convey it all. The emphasis of Emmett being a child was also incredibly done – subtle things; the airplane wallpaper of his bedroom, and outward things, especially the lines: “He was a child.”, He was my only child.”.

Several symbolic moments stood out to me throughout the film, particularly a grieving Mamie in the living room accompanied by her parents with a muted yellow backdrop – a metaphor for her happiness being killed.

Accolades should be provided to Deadwyler’s haunting performance and Chinonye Chukwu’s directing – the conveyance of Mamie’s grief and loss was beyond incredible and heart-wrenching, thankfully having none of the usual torture or tragedy porn often present in this genre of films.

Overall? A brilliant film, and a must-watch, especially for those who would never be able to relate to the fear, grief, and injustice that the Tills experienced.


From 9 March

131 Minutes

Rating M