HOLLYWOOD—For as long as I can remember, there has ONLY been one movie I’ve seen that I have only watched one time. That first flick was “12 Years a Slave” which was a brutal watch. You can now add another movie to that list “Till.” They are not bad movies, by any means, they are fantastic pieces of cinema, but they are so riveting it is hard to watch more than once without your emotions getting the best of you every time.

“Till” is one of those flicks because it reminds the world that as much as we’d LOVE to think that the United States of America has made so much progress in terms of race relations, if we’re forced to actually look in the mirror we would discover, not much has changed. The only difference is people can no longer openly get away with abhorrent behavior and not suffer the consequences.

The movie chronicles the tragic, horrific, brutal, haunting and downright vicious death of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was brutally beaten, shot, tortured and lynched while visiting cousins in Mississippi. The movie works well because it FORCES the audience to imagine the horror that Emmett (Jaylyn Hall) endured versus actually seeing it. To be honest, my conscious would not be able to witness it, similar to that brutal whipping scene in “12 Years a Slave.” However, I have ALWAYS heard stories about Emmett Till and the open casket, but NOT until this movie had I been given an idea of the brutality. That scene where Mamie, in an unbelievable, unflinching, gripping performance by actress Danielle Deadwyler, seeing her son’s body after learning he was dead will leave you aghast and speechless.

You feel her pain as a mother; you feel Emmett’s torture, as his bloody, bruised, beaten, body is viewed. I had no idea his teeth was pulled out, or that he was shot in the head. Imagine that happening to a 14 year-old America, because guess what: IT REALLY DID! “Till” is a well-crafted history lesson for America, for all those people who are so against teaching America’s history or what so many politicians have deemed Critical Race Theory. This has nothing to do with CTR, this is HISTORY and the fact that so many people have NO IDEA that this death was the reason the Civil Rights Act made movement and legislation was actually passed to protect African-Americans from being lynched, beaten, kidnapped, endure segregation, unable to vote, boggles my mind.

That was less than 70 years ago people. Think about that. Seventy years ago, African-Americans were treated like trash and less superior than their White counterparts; had to live in fear, behave in a way where they had to be apologetic if a White person felt threatened or scared by them. Tell me again why do we find the U.S. Constitution to be the Bible when it comes to the law? I’ll let someone else tackle that battle because it is a wicked one to say the least.

You still hear horror stories about the South, and how some African-Americans refuse to venture to certain parts because of the behavior of some Whites who still believe they are the superior race and have no fear in dropping the N-word or a few unsavory words as we see plenty of the characters do in this movie and it pierces through the soul.

This is Deadwyler’s film hands down. Her performance is subtle yet, slow burning. You can sense the moment she appears on the screen that she feels it in her bones that sending her son to Mississippi was a mistake; something that worried her and she did everything in her body to warn her son to be careful, to be aware of what he saw, but didn’t quite understand. The grief she absorbs and bottles up, but still manages to ensure justice for her son is attained is courageous beyond what you can put into words.

However, Emmett is just a vibrant burst of energy, who fails to understand his mother’s warnings. How African-Americans are treated in Chicago is NOT the same in the South, as Emmett, offends a White woman, Carolyn Bryant (Hayley Bennett), who lies about Emmett resulting in his kidnapping and death. This movie has so many scenes that just cut deep, particularly for people of Color, but that does not mean Whites cannot identify with the trauma this movie depicts. It is educating us, informing us that one person’s crusade can lead to change. Think about that, if Mamie had NOT forced the world to witness what happened to her son, the Civil Rights Act may have never been passed, segregation in the South may have still existed, African-Americans may have NEVER earned the right to vote. Think about that for a moment.

That is haunting to realize, but this movie presents that notion for us all. In addition, it lead to a crusade for others to speak about the unjust that was happening for decades, centuries that went ignored. Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole and Sean Patrick Thomas all deliver sensational performances in supporting roles, portraying real-life icons that also impacted the Civil Rights Movement. Director Chinonye Chukwu captures this story with a patience, softness, yet horror that needs to be told, needs to be scene for us to understand just how far we still have to go in terms of race relations.

“Till” reminds us that America’s history is not perfect, it is downright horrific to watch. It teaches us if we think all is well when it comes to race, look no further than what transpired in 2020 with George Floyd, look at Trayvon Martin the list can go on and on. We’ve got plenty of work still to do, hard to believe nearly 70 years after Till was murdered, no one faced criminal charges in his death and it took Congress until 2022 to pass legislation making lynching illegal, a federal crime. Wow, that’s just haunting people.