In Elegance Bratton’s inspirational and deeply moving retelling of his own story, 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. But even as he battles deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community, giving him a hard-earned sense of belonging that will shape his identity and forever change his life.
The Inspection is a brutal but honest “inspection” of the slow changes in the military since “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” was instituted as a formal policy. Since it was both written and directed by Eloquence Bratton, a gay young black man who enlisted and served in the Marines for five years (2010-2015), it has a claim for authenticity and truth.
For the Eloquence surrogate, Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) enlisting is an act full of complicated motivations: desperation to escape his homelessness, defiance to prove to the mother who threw him out to the streets wrong , an act of self surrender to the fate assigned him, and a recreation of his identity either within or away from his LGBTQ persona.
Unlike Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket which was an indictment of the military, The Inspection is a reluctant ambivalent, unsentimental love letter. It feels totally honest and utterly sincere. The Inspection shows the bullying endemic to the military code, the sadism too, the homophobia which yields to slow acceptance and respect that comes with the realization that there would be no military without some kind of homoerotic sublimation in the breaking down process that ensures squad camaraderie, even in the very traditions of the Corp itself. Once a recruit gets through boot camp, everyone will love and want to protect and defend the man to his left or right. No man will ever be left behind. The Marine Corp here is a microcosm reflecting the complexity and honesties of the masculine existence.
Pope’s portrayal of French embodies the creation of the ideal Marine. He is vulnerable and scared but he is also a survivor who is tougher than the laws that wish to break him. He adapts to hard circumstances without losing his identity or dignity or honor.
Bratton described The Inspection in typical Hollywood pitch language as Full Metal Jacket meets Moonlight. It’s brutal yet subjective, personal and honest, a coming of age story of not only a marine but the Marines.
The Inspection gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+. It can be streamed on Showtime.
- Effie T. Brown
- Chester Algernal Gordon
- Jeremy Pope
- Raúl Castillo
- McCaul Lombardi
- Nicholas Logan
- Eman Esfandi
- Andrew Kai
- September 8, 2022(TIFF)
- November 18, 2022(United States)