The Inspection

Where I Watched it: Apple VOD

English Audio Description Provided By Deluxe

Narrated By Michelle Deco

Jeremy Pope’s awards run seemed to begin and end with his nomination at the Golden Globes, something I thought for sure would result in more attention. I was a little surprised that we ended up with a giant marshmallow of whiteness in the Best Actor block at the Oscars, but after seeing Jeremy Pope’s performance… I kinda understand why he missed the cut.

The Inspection, is based on a true story, or at least a real person, and that makes it hard for me to tell someone their life choices are not cinematic. But, in the history of LGBT cinema, this film about a young gay black man (Pope), who is still rejected even in a post-AIDS epidemic world, by his mother (Gabrielle Union). I couldn’t tell if she covered the furniture so he wouldn’t rub his gayness and glitter on it, or whether or not she’s just some weird person who covers their furniture. Based on her demeanor toward her son, I’ll go with the former.

So, he signs up for the military, and it’s pretty obvious to his commanding officer, that despite the fact that all the soldiers heading into the Marines had to swear an oath that they weren’t gay, Pope’s character clearly is. Yet, Pope meets every challenge, perhaps with a few tears, with extreme determination to pass boot camp and become a member of the Armed Forces. But in a don’t ask, don’t tell world, will his secret be revealed? Will his mother love him finally?

I’m trying to evaluate the film as presented, because it is written and directed by the guy whose life inspired the story. I’m sure the accuracy is there, I just don’t like his story. Often I find myself reviewing films where I’m not directly pulled in specifically, but the gay side of this critique is that this story came across as “If I fight in the army, my mother might love me.” You might find that crass, but it does very much lay out that way, with pope telling union up front about his intentions, and his attempts to reach her during the training to boast about his presence in the camp, and ask her to attend his graduation where she can watch him become a member of the Marines.

It’s a little like gay Tigerland. It has all the trappings of introducing you to an interesting star that you’re certain will be in better things, and perhaps even be an Oscar nominee 20 years later. But, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I know not every member of the rainbow army will feel that way, but my takeaway wasn’t great.

As far as the audio description goes, it’s a rather quiet film all things considered. So, Michelle finds time to really hone in on pope’s performance, and even Union’s. Bokeem Woodbine and Raul Castillo are supporting standouts.

I don’t have a problem with the acting, and the direction and choice of structure are fine, I just don’t like the core story to begin with. It’s like this film failed before it ever started rolling for me, so I’m being nice, and trying to put aside my judgements about the personal decisions this writer/director made in his military career.

I expect to see better things from Golden Globe nominee Jeremy pope in the future.

Final Grade: B

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