Till – Budget Unknown – 2 hours and 10 minutes
In Chicago, Illinois, Mamie walks into a department store with new shoes to find her son, Emmett, looking at wallets. When a cop directs her to the basement to look at shoes, she straightens her back, looks him in the eye, and questions if he told the other patrons that information. He steps aside, and Emmett pleads to get the wallet with a woman’s picture inside. Mamie agrees to buy Emmett the wallet for his vacation to Money, Mississippi. Before he goes, Mamie warns Emmett that the rules in Mississippi are different than in Chicago. He must be on his best behavior, not anger white people, and remain small.
As Emmett boards the train with his Uncle Preacher and his cousins, Mamie worries because this two-week vacation is the longest they have ever been apart. During Emmett’s break, Mamie does everything possible with her friends and fiancé, Gene, to keep her busy. In Money, Emmett plays around while his cousins work the cotton fields. They stop at a local store to hang out and get some refreshments. Emmett goes inside, buys two pieces of gum, gives the cashier, Carolyn, the money, and compliments her. He tells her she looks like a movie star and shows Carolyn the model’s picture in his wallet. While his cousins pull him out of the store, Emmett turns and whistles at Carolyn. Emmett’s cousins see Carolyn run for her gun, so they get into their cars and drive away. A few days later, Emmett feels safe, but his cousins still worry. That night, two men come into Preacher’s home and threaten him at gunpoint to hand over Emmett. Uncle Preacher and his wife, Lizzie, offer to punish Emmett, but the men won’t hear it. They load Emmett onto the flatbed and have Carolyn confirm Emmett’s identity. As several men hold Emmett down, they take him away.
In Chicago, Mamie gets a call from Uncle Preacher saying that Emmett is missing. For days, friends and family come to Mamie’s home to pray and help with incoming calls from the media. Then, a friend comes in because a reporter called her with the news. Police found Emmett’s body in a river, and he is dead. Mamie collapses to the ground with grief. Later, Rayfield comes to her home with word from the NAACP. They want to help Mamie use Emmett’s murder to alarm the country about the lynchings in the south. However, Mamie only has one concern: Bringing Emmett’s body back to Chicago. After fighting with Mississippi, Mamie meets Emmett’s body at the same train station she waved goodbye to him. She falls apart.
Mamie and Gene meet the mortician, and Mamie demands to see Emmett’s remains. She tells Gene and the mortician to leave them alone. Mamie looks over her son’s battered body from head to toe. She tells Gene to find Emmett’s Christmas suit because it was his favorite and demands the mortician put it on Emmett for viewing. The mortician suggests making Emmett look better, but Mamie tells the mortician that Emmett is perfect. She goes outside to the awaiting media and makes a call to action. She grabs a reporter from Jet magazine so he can take a picture with her, Gene, and Emmett’s remains. Mamie decides to have a public viewing of Emmett, so everyone will know what happened and light a fire under Mississippi to charge the men responsible. This act is the first step of Mamie becoming a civil rights activist and sharing a mother’s pain for future generations.
This movie isn’t just about Emmett’s injustice. It’s about the pain, scrutiny, and humiliation Mamie suffered while bravely sitting and testifying during Emmett’s murder trial. The defense slandered her for being an engaged widow, attempted to disparage Emmett’s memory, and claimed Emmett’s death was a hoax. The prosecutors wouldn’t make eye contact with her or the members of the NAACP. It mirrors what happens to victims of crime in the 21st century. The director made a bold choice not to show Emmett’s murder. However, viewers get a full devastating view of the aftermath. It is a heartwrenching stab to the soul. But it’s what Mamie would want because this is her story. The set and costume choices were exquisite. Everything, from hair to clothes to eyewear, was spot on for the period and backed up by photographs. Listen carefully to the news reports in the background. They report on the lynching of Reverend George Washington Lee and his verdict. It helps viewers understand the ongoing evil throughout the US. When Emmett is on the train, the conductor segregates the train when they enter the south. While Emmett is in Mississippi, you see that Mamie has a nagging feeling that clinches around her. That feeling only a parent knows. This movie will move you to tears and shock you as Mamie gets assistance from T. R. M. Howard, Medgar Evers, and Myrlie Evers and ushers in the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars
Medgar, take me to Money – Mamie
Don’t you two get married before I get back – Emmett
Categories: Danielle Deadwyler, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, In The Theater, Jalyn Hall, movie, review, Till, Whoopi Goldberg
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