The all-male environment, the uniform and the sweaty intimacy makes the military boot camp an obvious genre for homo-eroticism one that Tarantino picked up on in his cameo role in 1994’s ‘Sleep With Me’ where he dissects the film gay subtext. The Inspection is a different matter, written and directed by Elegance Bratton a gay man who served in the US forces himself for five years and the film is based on his own experiences in the military.
Showrunner Matt Charman takes us behind the scenes of treason starring Charlie Cox
The Inspection follows Ellis French ( Jeremy Pope) already rejected by his mother (Gabrielle Union) who resents what he is to such a degree that she puts old newspaper on her couch for him to sit on (although we do the same but for a different reason when for our Editor returns from The Nags Head after he’s had a skin full of strong lager). Visiting her to collect his mail he breaks the news that he is joining the US marines and the next thing he’s on the bus to boot camp disembarking on arrival to drill sergeant Laws (Bokeem Woodbine) shouting and hectoring them in a manner not seen since the Ryanair boarding staff. But for French this is a taste of things to come with Laws vow to turn them into monsters more than marines. The dehumanizing of men into soldiers has been seen before in this type of film and the shadow of Full Metal Jacket looms large. The boot camp soon becomes a seething hot bed of resentment and in some respects lacks integrity fuelled by Laws when it becomes clear in a fantasy sequence that French has in the communal shower that he is gay and from hereonin his existence becomes hellish with Laws demonising him and encouraging the troop to follow his lead whereas a more sympathetic drill sergeant encourages him even if at one point he takes advantage too.
Nell Barlow chats to us about about her role in gay coming of age film, ‘Sweetheart’
At barely 90 minutes this doesn’t hang around with many engaging scenes , the too few scenes that Pope and Union have are good, and there’s the occasional humour to lighten things – a scene with the soldiers at night masturbating under their bed blankets n torch lit silhouette is perversely amusing with their barracks having more strokes than the pensioner ward of The Royal London Hospital.
Jeremy Pope in One Night in Miami reviewed here
The Inspection and its set up is nothing new but what does put a spin on it is the gay man in the military ostracised by the others but proving that he is equal and in many cases better than others there. Pope’s performance as seen by his turn as Jackie Wilson in ‘One Night in Miami’ is perfectly nuanced. Bratton too proves that he is certainly an emerging directorial talent whose future films will reward closer…um….inspection.
Here’s The Inspection trailer……..