Short Film Review “My Nephew Emmett” 1



First, the Recap:

Biased intolerance and the undermining sense of inequality partnered with it. For all the challenging roads down which we travel together as fellow human beings, the mere fact we allow ourselves to find room for such overt hatred and malice truly boggles the mind, along with searing he heart and spirit. Yet, when unchecked, this blatant animosity consumes anything and everyone it touches. It is 1955 in Money, MS, a State torn apart by racial division and enmity. One man, 64-year old Mose Wright (L.B. Williams), simply attempts to go about his routine on a late afternoon like any other, additionally enjoying the chance to wish his 14-year old nephew Emmett (Joshua Wright), whose visiting from Chicago, a fun-filled evening on the town.

Settling in with his wife Elizabeth (Jasmine Guy), Mose leaves to fetch water from the local well, encountering a friend while there, then returning to a quiet evening with a bath and awaiting Emmet’s return along with his other sons Robert (Chris Steele), Maurice (Dorian Davis) and Simeon (Tylon Larry). However, as 2:30AM comes, outside noises cause Mose to stir. Followed by sharp knocking and yelling at his front door, and despite warnings from Elizabeth, Mose soon faces two angry white men, J.W. Milam (Dane Rhodes) and Roy Bryant (Ethan Leaverton), who are hell-bent on teaching Emmett a lesson due to an apparent glance that strayed to Roy’s wife Carolyn (Emily Hooper). Desperate to avoid a potentially deadly escalation in events, Mose is ultimately helpless to prevent Emmett from being taken to a fate born of pure contempt.

Next, my Mind:

Based on actual events that unfolded on August 28th, 1955 against the family of Mose Wright and towards his nephew Emmett, writer/director/producer Kevin Wilson Jr.’s 20-minute short film hits the viewer square in the gut with persuasive, compelling, and no-holds-barred emotional potency plus a painfully relevant and necessary message that is just as valid and impactful today as in the era being shown. For me, I never find that any film which chooses to so deftly and with passionate intensity address the thematic elements as done here should go unnoticed, as we still see our own country, even in this contemporary age, being ravaged again by racial tensions, violence, and the serious need to come together as the human race. The cinematography here is superbly clean and the attention the lens pays to each and every moment presented only helps to make the viewer’s engagement with the narrative become that much easier. Just witnessing the display of both heartfelt love towards family paired with the sheer brutality of severely misplaced attitudes likewise aids in emphasizing the dilemma Mose Wright actually faced that horrible night, especially given how events culminated so tragically days after the initial confrontation. It’s a history and a reality we probably still hesitate to acknowledge, but sorry folks, it happened.

Williams truly does a magical job here in his role as Mose Wright, a simple, straightforward man who had a deep love for his home, his family, and from what we can see initially, everyone else, in spite of the bigotry and hatred. To be enjoying an uplifting visit from his out-of-State nephew brings him further joy and pride while perhaps still battling some of his own demons in quiet suffering. But, when August 28th, 1955 at 2:30AM arrives and he is forced into a harsh situation, watching him maintain a sense of outward poise while burning inside with both compassion and anger is so affecting to witness, though the end result is a forcibly imposed surrender and unspoken realization of what was to come. Throughout, Williams just emotes with subdued fire that elevates the character’s presence so acutely. Wright is solid in his portrayal of the ill-fated Emmett, a young man  just beginning to experience a new stage of his life, hanging with Moses’ sons, getting out on the town, wanting to do nothing else than be a teenager. Yet, due to his color, he becomes an involuntary target because of one little misstep that wouldn’t even warrant a hostile response in most cases otherwise, then having to face the wrath of unscrupulous men and their racist notions. Wright showcases both innocent and frightened demeanors very well.

Additional supporting turns arrive from Guy as Elizabeth, Mose’s wife, who also becomes an unwilling participant briefly during the intruder’s “visit”, Rhodes and Leaverton as Milam and Bryant, whose overt detestation of African-Americans is more than obvious, but even more evil in their attack upon Mose and his family with verbal and threatened physical abuse, Davis, Steele, and Larry as Mose’s sons Maurice, Robert, and Simeon, who can only watch and take a harsh lesson in reality in seeing the events unfold, and Hooper as Roy’s “slighted” wife Carolyn, who ultimately seems a completely unwilling “accomplice” to her husband and Milam’s actions. Additional appearances from Charlie Talbert and William Perkins are present, too.  In total, “My Nephew Emmett” is certainly awards-worthy alone for the subject it so irrefutably charges forward head-on into, but also as another glowing example of how powerfully a well-executed short film can impact a viewer in such a truncated timespan.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


One comment on “Short Film Review “My Nephew Emmett”

  1. Reply Jenelle Elder-Green Jan 17,2018 7:57 pm

    This is such an excellent review and so real. I believe we all need to see this and know that racism is still alive. We must keep alive this reality and this film is one way of doing that! I anxiously await the viewing of this short film.

    Jenelle Elder-Green

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