Synopsis: A young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother and with few options for his future, decides to join the Marines, doing whatever it takes to succeed in a system that would cast him aside.
Director: Elegance Bratton
Stars: Jeremy Pope, Gabrielle Union, Raul Castillo, Bokeem Woodbine
I’m a movie nerd. The first step is admitting it right? I must be because on top of all the other overwhelming evidence of this truth, when I find out that A24, was involved with this movie, it became a ‘must-see’ for me. A24 has distributed some phenomenal movies such as The Florida Project, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Midsommar, and Moonlight, just to name a few. They have a proven track record and a very loyal following.
Does The Inspection have a rightful spot at the A24 table? Let’s discuss. Writer-director Elegance Bratton has brought his own story to the screen where we meet Ellis French, played by Jeremy Pope. When we first meet French we see he doesn’t have much money as he is living in a shelter. He rides the subway with a backpack literally held together by duct tape.
One day on his journey he is going to meet with his mother, and he starts wiping off his lipstick as if to signify she wouldn’t approve. There doesn’t seem to be much his mother, played by Gabrielle Union, approves of where her son is concerned. He goes to visit her apartment and she has him stand in the hallway for an excruciating amount of time before she allows him to enter. She places newspaper on the couch before he is allowed to take a seat. He needs his birth certificate as he wants to enlist to become a Marine. He would rather die serving his country than die on the streets.
It’s established throughout the film that regardless of how his mother feels about him, he craves her respect and approval.
French enlists and starts to go through boot camp. Now there are many ways that Bratton could have approached this film. He doesn’t make French inferior, or weak but instead shows that when it comes to following orders or the intense obstacles, he is more than capable of completing any task.
There are those who aren’t thrilled with a gay man being there specifically his commanding officer Laws, played by Bokeem Woodbine. If there is a bad cop there has to be a good cop and that role is played excellently by Raul Castillo as Rosales. It is nice to see Castillo getting more screen time as I think if his showing in Cha Cha Real Smooth is any indication, we need to keep seeing more of him.
But it’s Pope’s phenomenal acting that carries this film. He becomes French and takes the audience on this journey with him.
It is an embarrassment of riches that this is Bratton’s narrative feature debut. And while it evokes thoughts of Moonlight, a young, gay black man trying to overcome, he carves out his own niche with his storytelling. A24 had the good sense to partner up with this film as it definitely can stand shoulder to shoulder with its already impressive lineup.
The Inspection was a very strong film.