The Inspection Review – Poignant Debut Film, Gritty and Honest

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The Inspection, from A24, presents the true story of down on his luck, homeless and self-described queen who decides to change his life and join the Marines determined to survive the physically demanding, and mentally grueling, challenges.

The film begins with Ellis French, played by Jeremy Pope, sleeping in a New York City homeless shelter, jumping the subway turnstile, and we understand he is without employment, options, and will become just another Riker's Island statistic if something radicle does not stop him.


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Homeless and gay, Ellis is on his way to visit his mom, Inez, played by Gabrielle Union, and we immediately understand there has been deep problems between them as she only opens the door the length of the chain lock.

She rapid fires questions "Are you in trouble?" "What do you need?" and worse, "Why are you here?" He explains he has decided to join the marines. After she berates him for his failings, and we understand both sides, he needs his birth certificate and therefore must sit through the stabbing remarks, and she understanding he needs this, feels she has the right to hit him, hard with her debilitating remarks.

Then he is off to boot camp, and of course, it is in the "Don't ask; Don't tell" era, so in typical bootcamp form, and we understand what boot camp is about, breaking down the solider, finding any weakness and building them to become honorable.

We meet the drill sergeant Laws, played by Bokeem Woodbine, who lives up to every imagined thought of a Marine drill sergeant. Even as Ellis begins to adapt, who he is and what he is trying to hide is as much a struggle as the exhausting physical routines.


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Boot camp on this gay solider is tough and the film chronicles his struggles. The truth, while not admitted, becomes evident which brings on a new level of physical and mental abuse. Soon, he needs to fight harder, become more disciplined, more determined, and suffer the wrath of the straight hardliners and the drill sergeant.

As only he knows the life he left behind, he fights harder against the prejudices, the direct attacks to force him to drop-out, and finally the night before the final inspection and graduation one last attempt is made to get him to quit, by force or by death.

The Inspection, a gritty, uncompromising film, showcases several truths that many outside the military and even those within are not willing to admit. In the "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" era when the hidden secrets are exposed, those in control, as this film highlights will become dedicated to creating an intolerable environment. Many on the receiving end drop out and if they chose to stay, when their secret is exposed are mercilessly subjected to extreme physical abuse.


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The ensemble cast delivers strong, authenticate performances which have been recognized and lauded. Gabrielle Union in her supporting role embodies the disappointment, anger, and rage she feels toward her son, in a shocking final scene.

Nominated for three Film Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature, Best Lead Performance and Best Supporting Performance, The Inspection has already racked up an impressive 32 nominations and six wins, heading into the Academy Award nominations.

The Inspection, unflinchingly honest storytelling, can be seen on streaming platforms and VOD. See it.


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Country: U.S.

Language: English.

Runtime: 95 minutes.

Director: Elegance Bratton.

Producer: Chester Algernal Gordon, Effie Brown,.

Writer: Elegance Bratton.

Cast: Jeremy Pope, Gabrielle Union, Bokeem Woodbine, Raul Castillo. McCaul Lombardi, Nicholas Logan, Eman Esfandi, Aaron Dominguez, Aubrey Joseph, Andrew Kai, Tyler Merritt, Steve Mokate, Brad Napp, Daniel Williamson, Wynn Reichert, Reginald Murray, Chase Van Velkinburgh.

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