The Inspection Carries Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union Into the Oscar Race

Bathroom stalls, showering marines and flashlights under the sheets encompass A24’s “The Inspection.” While the moving drama could catch the attention of progressive Academy members, others may find the honest subject matter too off-putting. A common denominator is the outstanding performances from Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union.

As Ellis French, Pope takes the lead of Elegance Bratton’s moving directorial and writing debut “The Inspection,” which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. The A24 film, inspired by true events, is a showcase for Pope and full of “Oscar-clip-worthy” scenes. We’ll see how the circuit treats the film, as Pope will be battling with bigger names such as Hugh Jackman and Colin Farrell for recognition.

Standing proud next to Pope is a career-best turn from Union as French’s mother, a homophobic prison guard that can’t accept him for who he is. She channels a bit of Mo’Nique’s Oscar-winning turn for “Precious,” and with the right backing, could be a contender for best supporting actress.

I was particularly impressed by Raul Castillo as one of the drill instructors, who offers an emotional pillar following some brutal takes. After “We Are Animals” landed him an Independent Spirit nom, hopefully a work like this can bring him closer.

“The Inspection” tells the story of French, a young, gay Black man, who after being rejected by his mother, decides to join the Marines.

Lachlan Milne’s cinematography does take cues from other LGBTQ dramas such as “Moonlight” (2016), but may be too subtle to make noise in the category.

We’ll wait to see where it lands in the awards races. With A24 spearheading “The Whale” and Everything Everywhere All at Once,” this could be a lot to juggle.

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