Gabrielle Union is taking to the screen like never before in the new film, The Inspection, which opens today. Written and directed by Elegance Bratton, the movie explores how far will a person go for their mother’s love and approval. Union plays the pivotal cameo role of Inez French, the lead character's disapproving mom.

Union. Pope. The Inspection
Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Pope in The Inspection. Image: courtesy of A24.

Stripped down, with pock-marked skin and a dour attitude, Union delivers a raw and gritty study of a mother who cannot accept her son’s own truth. It's especially heartbreaking to watch Union's character turn against her own son at what should be the most uplifting moment in his life. The film's main character, Ellis French, has been living in homeless shelters since being rejected by his mother at the of 16.

EBONY was on hand for the New York Film Festival VIP screening of the semi-autobiographical movie, where Bratton shared why this project is so heartfelt. "The Inspection is about a homeless, gay Black man who will do anything, even endure the homophobia of boot camp in order to win back his mother's love and affection, who ultimately learns by the end how to respect himself," explains Bratton.

At 25, Ellis is exhausted and knows that his life needs a major shift, so he enlists in the United States Marines. There, he battles against the system that berates him mentally and physically, hoping to tear down his dreams of making it through basic training because he is gay. It’s through his unbridled dedication that Ellis uncovers a camaraderie and support he would have never expected from this new community, and more importantly, the pride that shines from within. In real life, Bratton went through basic training and then served as a combat camera production specialist in the Marines. He penned his first draft of The Inspection in 2017.

“This is my story,” he declared. “I spent ten years being homeless. I really, truly believed that I was worthless at a certain point, that my life would never, ever, ever look like this.”

Broadway star Jeremy Pope, last seen on screen for his Emmy-nominated turn in the Netflix series Hollywood, stars in the title role. Pope delivers a quiet and moving performance through many scenes depicting Ellis’ sheer perseverance to survive whatever torment, physical or otherwise, he endured to become a marine.