Written and directed by Elegance Bratton, “The Inspection” is the story of his life, with most of the events depicted in the film happening verbatim. Elegance had to pay a huge price for being gay, and throughout his life, he had been a victim of homophobia. Just like the protagonist of the film, he was thrown out of his house when he was 16. Maybe that is why he has been able to create a very nuanced screenplay that understands the kind of subject it is dealing with and knows how to leave a lasting impact through its subtleties. So, let’s see if Ellis French is able to become a Marine and break the taboos and stereotypes of society.
‘The Inspection’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
A lot of times, people have no qualms about how they lead their lives but are made to feel by others that they are doing something wrong. Ellis French was a homosexual, but he never considered it a weakness or a demerit. He was proud of his identity, and he knew that nobody had any right to judge it. He was not afraid to face the world, but the only thing that scared him was facing his own people.
It is important that we ask ourselves why some kids grow up to be confident and bold, whereas a few harbor an inferiority complex beneath their skin. The way a person is brought up has a lot of impact on them and it molds their personality. You will feel invincible if you see your parents being confident in you and your abilities. But it happens more than often that parents forget to show that they trust their own children; they are condescending and block all doors of communication, fail to recognize the real potential of their kids, judge them for not being like them, and finally subject them to their own ideologies. Inez French couldn’t accept that her son was gay and she made him feel like he had ruined her life. She looked at him as if he were a predator who needed to ask for forgiveness for committing a sin.
Ellis did get heart broken when his own mother didn’t understand him, but even after being demeaned and thrown out of the house, he didn’t give up on her. He had gone to her house to get his birth certificate because he wanted to be a part of the world’s most elite fighting force, the Marine Corps, and he believed that he could pass their excruciatingly difficult training program. The expression on Inez’s face told us that, at that moment, she thought that her son had lost his mind. She didn’t believe that he could become a Marine and even mocked him.
Inez had already made peace with the fact that she had lost her son, and Ellis felt really bad after hearing that because he still didn’t understand how it was his fault. Inez had some expectations from her kid, and she wanted him to live his life the way she had imagined, which she referred to as “normal.” It was extremely hurtful for Ellis when his own mother told him directly that he should forget about her if he couldn’t become “normal” like others. Ellis had never imagined that his own mother would stop him from being himself and force him to pretend his entire life to be someone he was not. Ellis took his birth certificate and went to the training camp to make his dream come true, but little did he know that his journey would break him in pieces and give him the kind of nightmares he had never imagined.
Was Laws An Evil Person? Why Did He Hate Ellis?
A person who has been ostracized by the world often develops an empathetic core because he knows what it’s like to be on the other side. That is why, when Ellis saw Ismail getting bullied by other trainees on the bus, he went and offered him food. The Recruit Training boot camp was a loud and amusing place where people didn’t speak, they shouted at the top of their lungs. There were rules for almost everything, and a recruit’s life was made hell by tasks designed to break their spirit. French was determined to prove his mettle, and that’s why he gave it his all. He ran, he climbed, he crawled, and he did everything his superiors told him to. French knew his limits, and he constantly tried to surpass them in each and every task. He might not have been the strongest of them all, but his willpower and dedication were greater than anybody else’s.
Leland Laws had served in “Operation Desert Storm,” and he was the type of senior that every recruit feared. Laws had said that he hated recruits and didn’t leave any opportunity to make their lives hell. Laws had seen that French had gotten aroused while he was in the washroom, taking a shower with his colleagues. It was an embarrassing moment for French because he didn’t realize that he was around people. Everybody came to know that French was a homosexual, and the bullies didn’t leave any opportunity to torture him mentally and physically. Leland Laws was not a bad man, but he had seen the worst of mankind. Operation Desert Storm transformed him and he knew that in order to survive on the battlefield, one must become a monster. During one of the tests, where the recruits had to save a drowning man, Laws almost killed French. When French came back to his senses, he spoke out of order and told Laws that he was not going to report him to the authorities higher up.
That night, Rosales, a fellow instructor of Laws’, stood up for Ellis and told Laws that he had lost all respect for him. It was then that Laws told him why he felt it was important to be hard on the recruits and make their lives hell. Laws told Rosales that he was not just trying to make the recruits strong, but invincible. He wanted them to become monsters who would eat up the enemy on the battlefield. He had seen war, and he knew that it was the only way they could survive on the battlefield. He understood that it was not the right thing to bring out the worst in people, but by choosing to be a part of the Marine Corps, they had already signed up for it. Laws had carried his colleagues on his shoulder during the battle, and he knew that to be able to bear that burden, one needed to have a core of steel. There was a reason why Laws was so hard on the recruits, but it was an undeniable fact that he was a bully, and what he didn’t know was that the person he was doubting was going to surprise him through his resilience.
‘The Inspection’ Ending Explained: Did Ellis French Become A Marine? What Did He Prove To The World?
Ellis had managed himself since he was 16 years old, and he knew that despite the odds not being in his favor, he would survive in boot camp. Ellis had found a companion in Rosales, who always vouched for him and made sure that he got an equal opportunity. Ismail and Ellis had become friends, since both of them felt like outcasts. There were times when both of them broke down and they didn’t understand why the world was so harsh with them, but still the thought of giving up didn’t cross their mind and they were hopeful that they would get through it. During one of the tasks, where the recruits had to shoot a target, Harvey, a fellow recruit, tampered with French’s result because he just didn’t want him to succeed. Harvey was a bully, and he derived a lot of pleasure from other people’s discomfort. When Ellis saw the result, he was very sure that there was some foul play, as throughout his practice sessions, he had hit the target more than often. Ismail had seen Harvey cover the holes that the bullets had made with tape. He informed Rosales about it, and Ellis was given another chance.
Ellis French qualified for the tests and accomplished his mission of becoming a marine. Ellis wanted his mother to come for his graduation, and she did. Inez was overjoyed to see her son wear the uniform, and she couldn’t hold back her tears. Ellis decided to treat his mother to a good meal, and that’s where she pretended once again that she didn’t know that he was a homosexual. Inez created a scene where Leland Laws and other recruits were sitting with their families. She announced there that her son was gay and they were committing a blunder by making him a part of their army as he was not worth it. For the first time, Laws stood up for Ellis and told his mother very bluntly that it didn’t matter what he did in his personal life; for them, he was their brother. Inez left the scene feeling helpless, and Ellis ran after her. Ellis told his mother he would never give up on her, even if she hated who he was.
Till the very end of the film, “The Inspection,” Inez is not able to accept her son and him being gay was still as blasphemous for her as it had been all those years ago when she had thrown him out of the house. On his special day, Ellis realized that no matter what he did in life, his sexual orientation would always determine how some people judged him as worthy or not.
Bratton’s debut feature film, “The Inspection,” might not bring forth a totally unique storyline, but it is effective maybe because the director himself has gone through those emotions at one point in time in his life. From removing his lipstick out of fear of people judging him to standing his ground and telling his superior that he is who he is, Ellis French comes full circle. More than anything, Bratton’s crisp drama is about liberation, and it shows us how important it is to believe in oneself, especially when the world doesn’t.
“The Inspection” is a 2022 Drama Biopic film directed by Elegance Bratton.