Jamie Patterson’s unconventional buddy movie Tucked is a simple ode to inter-generational friendship set against Brighton’s glittery drag scene. The film follows ageing drag queen Jackie, a fan-favourite at his regular stage haunt, who has just been diagnosed with late-stage terminal cancer. He befriends a new young queen at the club named Faith, who in turn helps Jackie tick some increasingly outlandish experiences off his bucket list in his last weeks. What ensues is a heartfelt story of friendship and reconciliation, but one that refrains from making any incisive commentary on the film’s more complex portrayal of gender.
When Jackie (Derren Nesbitt) finds Faith (Jordan Stephens) sleeping in their car after a performance at the club he is appalled, grumpily instructing them to come and sleep on the couch in his dingy flat. However, what Jackie doesn’t realise is that his gesture will spark an unlikely friendship that both of them sorely needed. This is an often-told story in LGBT films; one of finding your own family after estrangement from the people who raised you. In this case, Jackie’s wife left him due to her disagreement with his cross-dressing, and in the ten years since her death Jackie has not spoken to his daughter, Lily. Faith, similarly isolated, is trying to start their career as a singer. As the pair grow closer, Faith encourages Jackie to reconnect with his daughter, so that he does not have any regrets before he passes.
Though the narrative is marked by impending tragedy, Patterson’s film is remarkably light-hearted in tone, treating Jackie’s illness with both dignity and a dry sense of humour. Nesbitt and Stephens have great chemistry as the two leads; Jackie’s nonchalant, irritable nature is softened by Faith’s more emotive extraversion, and the two bicker like old wives. The comic elements lend themselves to the establishment of an affectionate co-dependency, with Faith describing Jackie as “the cross-dressing grandad I always wanted.”
However, the film falls somewhat short in that it focuses primarily on Jackie, a resolutely straight man, and the mourning of his wife. Whilst this is a worthy narrative, Faith’s character is left relatively unexplored beyond what they serve to Jackie’s larger goals. This is unfortunate, as Faith openly discusses their ambivalent relationship to gender and labels, but the film’s short run-time fails to expand upon any of this much-needed character dimension, especially in a purportedly ‘queer’ film. As the young drag queen proclaims: “Everyone needs a little Faith.” Ironically, this is something Tucked certainly deserved more of.
by Megan Wilson