Wednesday, November 30, 2022
The struggles of a gay Marine recruit
When it comes to depicting the way the Marine Corps trains recruits, Hollywood has tended to go hard. Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket set the brutal standard for the fervor with which drill instructors try to break down their charges before allowing them to become Marines. The Inspection is another basic-training movie but with a difference. It focuses on a gay recruit who joins the Marines after spending 10 homeless years on the streets of Trenton, N.J. Based on his own life, writer/director Elegance Bratton focuses his movie on Ellis French (a terrific Jeremy Pope), a disheveled young man whose religious mother (Gabriel Union) threw him out for being gay before he had learned to stand on his own two feet. Scenes between French and his mother have bite, mostly because Union conveys the unmitigated loathing French's mother has for her son's gayness. Most of the movie focuses on French's training days, which includes a moment in which he inadvertently reveals his gayness. A tough drill instructor (Bokeem Woodbine) makes it his business to weed French out of the Corps. Another non-commissioned officer (Raul Castillo) extends some understanding, assuring French that others like him have made it to the end. Bullied by trainers and his fellow recruits, it takes all of French's resolve to continue. He develops a tie with another "outcast" recruit (Eman Esfandi), a Muslim, but mostly he's on his own. Although the movie can feel limited, it stands as a revealing look at a young man who's trying to understand whether he can fit into a world that wasn’t designed to acknowledge his existence. It's not only the Marine Corps that's making decisions here.