We round up the reviews for this new film based on horrifying true events.
The Guardian: **** “Till is a fierce portrait of courage and a sombre study of the human cost involved in resisting this kind of barbarity.”
Empire: **** “Aided by an effective, upfront score from Abel Korzeniowski, Chukwu’s filmmaking lacks flash and thunder, but is well crafted and cinematically intelligent. The last third becomes a courtroom drama, mostly played out on Deadwyler’s impassive face. It’s perhaps the film’s biggest boon that she can deliver more in a look than others can with reams of dialogue and, when it’s her time to take the stand, her quiet, dignified power lifts Till to a whole new level.”
Evening Standard: **** “This is not one of those worthy projects that plods through its central character’s most famous words and deeds. Nor does it serve up torture porn or fetishise Emmett’s corpse. We’re in the safe hands of Nigerian-American writer-director Chinonye Chukwu, whose last movie, Clemency, gave the wonderful Alfre Woodard so much room for manoevre, as a warden working on Death Row. Chukwu prefers humans to saints and fluid film-making is her thing.”
The Telegraph: **** “Chinonye Chukwu’s chilling drama, set in Mississippi in 1955, is led by an exceptional turn from Danielle Deadwyler.”
The Express: “It’s a grim film but an important one. As it’s released on the second anniversary of the day Confederate flags were waved inside the Capitol Building, it’s also depressingly topical.”
The Upcoming: **** “The film clearly aims to educate and commemorate, but then struggles to branch out into something greater for large portions of its 130-minute run time. It is also all slightly overdramatic, but it is this as a whole that makes Till such an emotive and gruelling watch, made all the more chilling by the simple fact that what you are witnessing is true and took place really not that long ago.”
iNews: “Chukwu, a filmmaker intent on telling Mamie Till’s story from a black woman’s perspective, directed Deadwyler in a performance that channels rage and grief into meaningful protest and political action. There’s a real lightness of touch with material that might feel impossible to wring something fresh from after all these years. But Chukwu’s empathetic and insightful character study of Mamie Till – who in the midst of her suffering helped incite one of the major catalysts of the civil rights movement in America – is a howl of pain and a towering, emotive viewing experience even after all of these years.”
Rogerebert.com: *** 1/2 “Chukwu gets fine work from all of her actors, including the always welcome Frankie Faison as Mamie’s father. Goldberg is memorable in her few short scenes, and Jayme Lawson is also good in a role Goldberg once played, Myrlie Evers. Hall leaves a lasting impression as Emmett; his naturalistic performance makes him feel even more real to us. The haunting score by Abel Korzeniowski and the editing by Ron Patane ably assist the director in telling this story. Bobby Bukowski’s cinematography reminds us of how beautiful the South can look despite being a backdrop for so many horrible acts of racism.”
BFI.org.uk: “The supporting cast all perform with style and grace. Whoopi Goldberg, Sean Patrick Thomas and Frankie Faison play Mamie’s loving and devastated family, while Tosin Cole and Jayme Lawson bring a strength and dignity befitting the activist couple Medgar and Myrlie Evers. Much of the film sees Mamie paired off with other characters, engaged in duologues on grief and motherhood while tears pour down their faces. But even the most complex of performances can be in the service of the broadest of dialogue. Mamie speaks of having to always present herself as beyond reproach; the film seems weighed down by the same burden, so caught up in its own unimpeachability that it flattens the people inside it.”
Vulture.com: “Till wants to avoid turning its tragedy into spectacle, but it can’t help but use its main character as a means for its viewers to get an indirect glimpse. The film understandably desires to bear witness, however difficult that may be — it wasn’t until March of this year, after decades of failed attempts, that lynching was made a federal hate crime in an act named after Emmett Till.”
The FT: **** “Chukwu shows the studios how to tell this story without diminishing an inch of gravity. Her film is a study of parental devotion, and the need to identify guilt even when a system is unfit to do the same. Ahead of an awards season filled with giddy movies celebrating movies themselves, Till honours something more important: the power of a picture that speaks the truth.”
Till is released in cinemas on the 6th January.