DAR HE: The Lynching of Emmett Till, 2012.
Directed by Rob Underhill.
Starring Mike Wiley.
Days after stepping off the train, 14-year-old Emmett Till from Chicago goes missing in Money, Mississippi. Later, the boy’s mutilated body is found in a river. DAR HE is the story of William Bradford Huie of Look magazine as he interviews the residents of Money, as well as the two men acquitted of the crime, to find out what truly happened.
The film is based on a true story which shocked the American people and helped to mobilise the civil rights movement in the fifties.
When you read a synopsis like this, it would be understandable if you thought that this film would be an incredibly powerful tale with scenes that make you wince and characters that you can’t help but despise. Strangely enough, with such an important story, this film barely packs a punch and leaves you wishing you cared more.
This may be due in part to the way in which the tale is presented to us. Adapted from Mike Wiley’s one-man play, the story is told from a variety of different perspectives such as Emmett himself, the men acquitted of Emmett’s murder and a whole host of other men and women who were there at the time. What sets this film apart from similar stories and at the same time is the films biggest downfall, is the fact that all of the characters are played by one actor, Mike Wiley.
Unfortunately, Wiley playing every part only stands to reduce any significant impact that this story could have had on you as a viewer as you end up getting confused as to who each character is meant to be, and you therefore find yourself struggling to connect with what’s going on. While it’s definitely unique, you can’t help but feel that having a full cast would have only helped to improve the story and your understanding of it.
You do have to give credit to Wiley as he shows great range and at times his performance is quite remarkable. Unfortunately though, it sometimes ends up feeling like a poor Eddie Murphy or Adam Sandler film (much like the multi-character performances in Nutty Professor or Jack and Jill) thanks to his exaggerated actions when playing several of the characters.
It also has to be said that even though this film has a 70 minute running time, it does feel like it’s a little longer. The jumpy direction and at times plodding script mean that you spend an inordinate amount of time checking your watch rather than enjoying the movie.
All in all, while this story is itself very powerful (I would recommend reading up on the true story of Emmett Hill), the way it’s presented to you makes you wish you were watching a similar genre piece with more impact, like Mississippi Burning. Praise should be given to Mike Wiley for a brave performance but unfortunately there’s not enough here to keep the average viewer engaged.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★
Ozzy Armstrong is a Stargate and Rocky superfan. Follow him on Twitter.