August 3, 2023
By Don Morton
This is writer/director Elegance Bratton’s deeply moving and fiercely candid autobiographical tale of his time in Marine Corps boot camp, the notoriously grueling ordeal made even more so by his sexual persuasion.
Young, disturbed and gay Ellis French (a spot-on Jeremy Pope), facing few life prospects and shut out by his unenlightened mother (Gabrielle Union), becomes determined to make it through basic training and join the Corps (represented here by the always superb Bokeem Woodbine).
He of course encounters within his new family (platoon) the expected deep-seated prejudice and homophobia, but also unexpected support and camaraderie. Amid the persecution, cruelty and survival there is also solidarity, served up by the director with style and even the occasional bit of humor. It’s cathartic.
So, it’s a gay flick, a boot camp movie, and a journey of personal triumph all in one, and a film from which all viewers can benefit, even straights. Especially straights. (95 min)