|This Was My Son|
The programme begins with the well-intentioned oddity This Was My Son (Dir. Rob Underhill; USA, time), which sees actor Mike Wiley perform a monologue as Mamie Till , who recounts the traumatic experience of exploring her son’s body after he was brutally murdered. The history books consider her son, named Emmett, to be a victim whose violent death and open-casket funeral marked turning points in the Civil Rights movement, so This Was My Son gains some resonance as the final images and archival excerpts situate Mamie’s loss within a greater collective tragedy. The monologue itself is surprisingly free of affect, though, as the film offers it in one bland long take in which actor/writer Wiley recounts the lines in close-up. The casting choice is a major distraction, since one spends most of the time wondering while a male actor assumes the part of a grieving mother. (If the intent is to use the male/female spin and the Civil Rights movement as a backdrop for an LGBT parable, it doesn’t resonate.) Although Wiley performs Till’s heartbreak rather well, the monologue doesn’t really do the subject justice, for This Was My Son ultimately plays like a screen test, albeit a very good one. The film comes in a series of similar films by Underhill and Wiley about the lynching of Emmett Till, so perhaps it requires the full spectrum for context.
ga('create', 'UA-30395848-1', 'auto');