starring Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, Whoopi Goldberg
written by Michael Reilly & Keith Beauchamp and Chinonye Chukwu
directed by Chinonye Chukwu
by Walter Chaw At once a muddle and overly simplistic, Chinonye Chukwu's Till is told in a broad visual style that signals "prestige picture," replete with slow and stately circular pans and, in one appalling instance, the dolly zoom Hitchcock made famous in Vertigo to dramatize a mother's pain upon confirmation of her son's death. It's handsomely decorated, and its costumes went on a national tour with the film's rolling release, which feels as oblivious as a tie-in fashion show for Schindler's List would have. That the screenplay, by a trio of authors including alleged Till scholar Keith Beauchamp (whose contentions a grand jury partially refuted in 2007), trafficks in debunked accounts of the inciting event in the film is one thing, but Till plays loose in favour of testimonies that eyewitnesses have since recanted, thus leaning towards Carolyn Bryant's account--Bryant being the white store clerk who falsely accused 14-year-old Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall) of making verbal and physical passes at her in Jim Crow-era Mississippi. Her accusations led to Till's kidnapping, torture, and murder, his body left for boys fishing in the river to discover. Till's mother, Mamie, insisted he be returned home to Chicago, and though the corpse was bloated by its time in the river and mutilated by the attentions of the backwoods crackers who killed him, she held an open-casket funeral that earned national attention.