Tucked (3 stars)

Tucked

Believable performances power this sentimental piece about a friendship between two drag queens

Tucked really shouldn't work. The story of an unlikely May-December friendship between two drag queens is a sentimental, intermittently clunky affair but the committed performances, polished visuals and soulful mood combine to disarm any reservations.

A familiar figure in 1960s cinema, Derren Nesbitt (Victim, Where Eagles Dares etc) has one of the best roles of his career as Brighton drag queen Jackie. All bulging leopard print and cascading wigs, he still wows club regulars with an old school act of foul-mouthed gags, diva swagger and dodgy lip-synching. Inevitably, 'I Will Survive' is a big part of his repertoire.

Diagnosed with an aggressive, terminal cancer, Jackie has every right to feel sorry for himself, until he is asked to show the ropes to newcomer Faith, impressively underplayed by Jordan Stephens from Rizzle Kicks. Jackie offers sanctuary and a father figure to Faith, with the duo bonding over family woes, the labels imposed by society and a shared defiance of homophobic yobs.

That the film works is in no small part down to the warm, believable relationship between the two leads. In a performance without vanity, Nesbitt invests Jackie with a prickly irritability that is very appealing. Meanwhile, Stephens has a confident screen presence, bringing vulnerability and flair to the resilient Faith.

Prolific writer-director Jamie Patterson (Home for Christmas, Fractured) adds some interesting shades to the way the characters regard themselves – Jackie is a straight man who happens to like drag, whilst Faith identifies as non-binary. The film also has some fun with the characters, as the duo tick off Jackie's bucket list by visiting a strip club and buying drugs from far-from-friendly dealer Daryl (Steve Oram). Tucked itself is far from perfect, but it has more than enough heart and humanity to win you over.

Limited release from Fri 17 May.

Tucked

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • UK
  • 1h 20min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jamie Patterson
  • Cast: Derren Nesbitt, Jordan Stephens, April Pearson
  • UK release: 17 May 2019

Jackie (Nesbitt) is a Brighton drag queen who’s diagnosed with aggressive terminal cancer, who forms an unlikely friendship with Faith (Stephens), a newcomer to the drag scene. It shouldn’t work but it does, thanks to a warm, believable relationship between the two leads. Far from perfect, but with plenty of heart and…

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