There’s a lot of pain in Till, the heartbreaking story of the history-changing lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. A lot of pain, sorrow, and anger. And it’s not seen only on the face of Emmet’s devastated mother, Mamie (Danielle Deadwyler, The Harder They Fall). We feel it too. It is an extremely difficult film to watch, but one of the most important of the year.

In actuality, this isn’t the story of Emmett Till’s death. For that, be sure to check out the powerful documentary called The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. Rather, Till, as directed by Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency), and co-written by Michael Reilly and Keith Beauchamp, is a mother’s story. It is about the resilience and courage in the face of adversity as told from the maternal point of view of Mamie Till-Mobley. In other words, this is Deadwyler’s movie and she delivers a searing performance that may turn out to be the best of the year. It’s hard to imagine anyone besting it.

"an extremely difficult film to watch, but one of the most important of the year"

Till begins in 1955 Chicago as we meet Mamie, a widowed mother who lost her husband in World War II, and is the only black woman working for the Air Force in Chicago. Her as-happy-as-a-black-woman-can-be-in-1955 existence, along with that of son Emmet (a wonderful Jalyn Hall, The House With a Clock in its Walls), who she affectionately calls Bo, will soon clash against the ignorance and intolerance of the South when she sends Bo to visit his cousins and great uncle in Money, Mississippi.

Before putting her son on the train to head south, Mamie reminds Bo that things are a lot different down there, so “make yourself small, and if you ever find yourself in conflict with white folks, get on your knees and apologize.” Bo shrugs off the warning as he and his mother circle his bedroom while dancing happily to jazz records.

Once in Mississippi, however, Bo has a bit of trouble fitting in. More of a city boy in his pleated fleece trousers, gold Albert chain, and slub weave shirts, he’s not cut out for the difficult work of picking cotton in his uncle’s fields. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a white female store clerk goes awry when he gives the lady what he considers to be a harmless wolf whistle. Mamie will never see her son alive again.

Bringing a deep passion and a baked-in emotional ethos to this socially conscious film is a cast which includes an unrecognizable Whoopi Goldberg under heavy prosthetics who plays Mamie’s mother, John Douglas Thompson as Bo’s great-uncle who was responsible for the boy the night he was abducted, and Tosin Cole in his limited scenes as civil rights activist and advisor to Mamie, Medgar Evers. Along with remarkable period production and costume design by Curt Beech and Marci Rodgers respectively, we are transported back to the racially charged atmosphere of 1955 Mississippi. There’s an ironic beauty to the proceedings that keeps us a bit off kilter.Till

Another of the film’s primary strengths comes from Chukwu, who clearly knows what she has in both Deadwyler and the story the two are telling. The temptation to push this whole thing over into melodrama must have been very strong. And with such persuasive subject matter it, quite frankly, would have worked anyway. Fortunately, that never happens. Chukwu’s stable, sensitive hand lets the heart-wrenching subject matter do the talking.

Realizing that her story is about Mamie’s remarkable journey in the aftermath of losing her son, Chukwu chose to spare us from the physical violence. Hearing the screams, and experiencing the pain on the face of a mother who has just lost her son is far more effective than witnessing the brutality first hand. Till is less about the murder and more about knowing, learning, and promising to remember.

The film is, at times, slow moving and methodically paced with a few too many pregnant pauses as Chukwu’s camera stays glued to Deadwyler’s face. In most instances, the technique strengthens the film’s message and speaks to the actress’s ability to carry the film, but in others it nears indulgent padding. Regardless, Till is an emotionally relentless story about a mother’s strength in the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy. It carries with it a message that continues to resonate to this day.

5/5 stars


Till (2022)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Universal Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- January 17, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH; French; Spanish
nglish: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; DVD Disc, Digital Code coupon
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Universal pays mad respect to Chinonye Chukwu's Till with a wonderful hi-def transfer of the film that looks absolutely flawless. However, the studio misses the mark with its blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code edition that comes up way short. Accompanying the pristine 1080p presentation of the the film are exactly zero special features. That's right, not a single one.


As previously mentioned, the 1080p transfer is a good one with very few flaws. Particularly exceptional are the color saturation from the film's earthy palette, and the fine details of the 2.39:1 Anamorphic widescreen picture throughout the presentation. It's beautiful!

Sure, with no special effects to speak of, and simple 1950s-era production values, there's a low degree of difficulty. But even so, this is an absolutely gorgeous transfer that even hits the mark in its nighttime and dimly lit scenes which hold up nicely with little to no banding or crush.

There is a barely noticeable grain added which fits in perfectly with the film's historic setting.


Included is a DTS-HD 7.1 Master audio mix that, while certainly not anything to write home about, does an adequate job of immersing the viewer in its mid-century setting. This is a dialogue-heavy film which keeps voices always clear and audible, with nice environmentals that keep us involved in the goings-on. You'll understand once the ringing of Emmett's mother's screams fill your room. It is both earth-shattering and heartbreaking.

Included are subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.


Missed a great opportunity to further educate us with some archival material. What about a documentary or two about the Emmett Till case, or even some archival photos, or footage of his mother's crusade for awareness?


  • None

Special Features:

  • None

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 0/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars

Film Details


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic content involving racism, strong disturbing images and racial slurs.
130 mins
: Chinonye Chukwu
Michael Reilly; Keith Beauchamp; Chinonye Chukwu
Danielle Deadwyler; Jalyn Hall; Frankie Faison
: Drama | Biography
Based on the true story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Make yourself small."
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 28, 2022
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 17, 2023
Synopsis: In 1955, after Emmett Till is murdered in a brutal lynching, his mother vows to expose the racism behind the attack while working to have those involved brought to justice.