Stories of ageing performers coming to the end of their careers are nothing new, but Tucked brings a slightly different complexion to that tale, existing within the colourful, sequined world of drag. From writer-director Jamie Patterson, the film is a light-footed comedy-drama about regret and the notion of living life to the full while you can. After a brief cinema release earlier this year, it is now arriving on DVD and digital platforms.
The film follows Derren Nesbitt as drag veteran Jackie, who forms a bond with rising queen Faith (Rizzle Kicks singer Jordan Stephens) when he discovers that Faith is sleeping in his car. He takes Faith into his home and reveals to him that he has recently been diagnosed with aggressive, terminal cancer and only has months to live. Jackie and Faith attempt to carry out the items on the former’s bucket list, including reuniting with daughter Lily (April Pearson).
Tucked was always going to live or die based on the relationship between Jackie and Faith. On this front, Patterson’s movie completely succeeds. Nesbitt’s Jackie is a sad, regretful man, but someone who clearly uses his ribald stage persona to escape the deep sadness of his illness and of his solitary existence as a septuagenerian widower, estranged from the rest of his family. It’s a compelling performance that serves as a counterpoint to Stephens’ work as a defiant, young performer with a firm grasp on their identity.
As much as the characters are nicely sketched, the storytelling is unfortunately rather slight. Tucked runs for less than 80 minutes and it feels as if the narrative could’ve done with a little more meat on its bones. While the performers have clearly spent time digging into their characters, there’s very little chance for the audience to do the same. Faith, especially, is a mere thumbnail whom is never deepened beyond a passing reference to the fact his family doesn’t accept his identity.
Tucked is at its best when it focuses on its comedy, which is often impregnated with heart far more than the dramatic scenes. A naive run-in with an intolerant drug dealer, portrayed by Sightseers star Steve Oram, is a particular highlight, while an awkward encounter between Jackie and a lap dancer yields genuine emotion amid the giggles. Patterson has a real gift for finding the serious drama within these comedy setups and it’s in scenes like this that the movie comes alive.
The problem is that the film feels as if it’s holding back from really reaching into the innards of the characters and doesn’t really have much to say about the escapist power of drag either. With that said, both central performances are charming and rich, to the extent that a better movie featuring the two of them could have been something truly special.
Dir: Jamie Patterson
Scr: Jamie Patterson
Cast: Derren Nesbitt, Jordan Stephens, April Pearson, Joss Porter, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Steve Oram
Prd: Finn Bruce
DOP: Paul O’Callaghan
Music: Richey Rynkowski
Run time: 79 mins
Tucked is available on DVD and digital download in the UK from 9th September.