This review is part of my coverage of TIFF ’22. I attended this film’s world premiere on September 8th.
The Inspection is a film that is actually based on the filmmaker’s life. It’s not autobiographical per-se, there is an element of fiction here, but the end result is still a powerful, meaningful, and intense film that will hold a very special place in many peoples’ hearts, especially those who are queer and whose families may not be accepting of them.
The Inspection is the story of a gay man, played by Jeremy Pope, who enlists in the marine corps in an attempt to gain the approval and acceptance of his homophobic mother, played by Gabrielle Union. It builds into an intense drama in which our main character must try to hide his queerness from everybody around him, or face the consequences.
While the first act is a little wonky and the film takes a while to pick up, it gets right to where it needs to go in the second act and onward. The performances are stellar and the runtime is right in the hour and a half sweet spot, though it does tend to drag on at times.
This is a film that has some surprises up its sleeves. Most notably to me, the film has a lot more humour than I expected. For a drama such as this one, I didn’t expect any humour at all. But those moments landed and never really felt phoned in.
While there is some development of character relationships that don’t really go anywhere, for me the most standout aspect of this film is the relationship between the main character Ellis and his mother. That is ultimately where the heart of the film is at, and it is well developed and well executed, especially later on in the film.
Elegance Bratton has written and directed a truly personal work in The Inspection. He writes the script with honesty and sincerity, as the film goes from quiet and intimate to loud and intense scene by scene. It’s surreal, while being brutally honest. This being his feature film debut, he truly knocks it out of the park with his direction. I have a feeling he might be the next big auteur in the industry, and I think he may have found a niche with deeply personal queer cinema that he should further hone in on.
The Inspection may lag and drag on at first, but it picks up rather quickly. It’s one of those films where you genuinely do not know where it’s going to go next, and it consistently surprises. This is a strong debut for Elegance Bratton, and I would highly recommend you check this one out when it hits theatres in November.
Film Grade: B