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"Till" is a story for the ages but also for the here and now


Starring Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Kevin Carroll, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson, Roger Guenveur Smith and Whoopi Goldberg. Written by Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp and Chinonye Chukwu. Directed by Chinonye Chukwu. Opens Friday at Cineplex Cinemas Varsity and VIP. 131 minutes. PG

⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (out of 4)

No horror movie can match the terror that is the real-life story of Emmett Till's kidnapping and murder, one that "Till" brings to the dramatic big screen with a fury born of deep reflection. In August of 1955, the cheerful 14-year-old Emmett, empathetically played by Jalyn Hall, had travelled from Chicago to visit cousins in Mississippi when he innocently committed what passes for a Black crime in the Jim Crow South: he whistled at a white woman. The punishment meted out to him by two white supremacists defies comprehension: Emmett was kidnapped, savagely beaten, shot in the face and dumped lifeless into the Tallahatchie River. Director Chinonye Chukwu ("Clemency") doesn't show the torture and murder and barely gives screen time to the killers, who escaped justice thanks to a see-no-evil white jury. Instead Chukwu aims her eyes-wide-open lens at Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler), the mother of Emmett, who reluctantly sent her son south with a warning ("Be small down there") and received back a box containing his battered and disfigured body. Mamie grimly determines to show the world, via an open coffin and public funeral, what hatred did to her son. Deadwyler is a dynamo in this career-defining and awards-beckoning role, as she evolves from a woman of caution into a fearless fighter for civil rights. "Till" is a story for the ages but also for the here and now: the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a federal statute making lynching a hate crime, became law only this past March, 67 years after Emmett's murder. 🌓

—Peter Howell


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