Elegance Bratton’s ‘The Inspection’ is a very strong film.

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

When I discovered A24 was involved with this movie, it became a ‘must-see’ at TIFF 2022. American independent entertainment company A24 has distributed phenomenal films such as The Florida Project, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Midsommar, and Moonlight, 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 this.

Writer-director Elegance Bratton brings his own story to the screen through Ellis French (Jeremy Pope). When we first meet French, we see he doesn’t have much money as he lives in a shelter. He rides the subway with his backpack held together by duct tape.

On the way to meet his estranged mother, he wipes off his lipstick, signifying her disapproval. There doesn’t seem to be much his mother (Gabrielle Union) approves of where her son is concerned. Once at her apartment, 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 has come to obtain 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 despite how his mother treats him, he craves her respect and approval.

French heads off to boot camp. Now, there are many ways that Bratton could have approached this film. He doesn’t make French inferior or weak. Instead, he shows that he is more than capable of completing any task when it comes to following orders or intense obstacles.

Some aren’t thrilled with the presence of a gay man, specifically his commanding officer, Laws (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; if his performance in Cha Cha Real Smooth was an indication, we need to see 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 storytelling niche.

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.

Grade: B+

Watch the movie trailer: