The Inspection Examines Queer Life in The Military
“From the halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli, I will fight my countries battles in the air, on land and sea. First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean, we are proud to clam the title of United States Marine.”
I can not begin to tell you how many times my brother and I marched around the house to the breakfast table singing this hymn alongside our father – a United States Marine. More than our birth, my father is and always has been a proud Marine and will yell Semper Fi – Do or Die to anyone who will listen.
Elegance Bratton’s Inspection chronicles a young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother who joins the Marines, doing whatever it takes to succeed in a system not made for someone like him. Battling deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community that will shape his identity and change his life forever.
Each uniquely fantastic, Jeremy Pope, Gabrielle Union and Bokeem Woodbine all give tour de force performances in this film. Pope carries the film with grace, humility and a quiet fire perfect for French, while simultaneously conveying the unflinching, complicated love sons and mothers have for one another. It’s what he doesn’t say in between the lines that will break your heart in a million pieces.
Gabrielle Union as a dark-skinned, beautiful, boisterous, combative, and problematic woman who just happens to be single Black mother is a quiet fire in a completely different manner. She fiercely loves her son, but doesn’t love “what” he is…a queer Black man. Her role is small, but powerful enough to make a permanent imprint in the soul of every audience member lucky enough to witness her in this role.
Last, but not least, Bokeem Woodbine makes Lou Gossett, Jr in An Officer and a Gentleman look like a teddy bear. Challenging French at every twist and turn mentally and physically, insighted such a visceral reaction in my spirit that there is no doubt this actor went above and beyond to inhabit a man who is tough, yet quietly compassionate.
Inspection sheds a much needed spotlight on the internalized shame and mental taxation being queer can take within the confines of family, who refuse to understand and embrace. Yet, illustrates how one can have family that you are not born into that will love and nurture your spirit in just the right way for you to move forward in life and in love. It’s a must see film and a most wonderful debut for Elegance Bratton