Jamie Patterson (director)
Bulldog Film Distribution (studio)
09 September 2021 (released)
09 September 2019
A unique gem that may well put the still relatively young writer/director Jamie Patterson a little further onto the map, seeing how in TUCKED former TV- and movie icon Derren Nesbitt (now a proud 84 years of age!) gives a career-best performance as an ageing drag queen diagnosed with terminal cancer.
By the way, this is not the first time Mr. Nesbitt has worked with the director either: he was ‘Grandad’ in HOME FOR CHRISTMAS a few years before. Nesbitt (STRONGROOM, WHERE EAGLES DARE, BURKE & HARE), it would be true to say, these days does not do a great deal of work and for those whoever doubted his abilities as an actor please see him in this movie delivering a truly bravura piece that few actors in his age group would be capable of pulling off so convincingly. Funny also that a very young Derren played the loathsome blackmailer Sandy Youth in the first British film with an overtly gay theme, the then risque VICTIM (1961).
TUCKED is yet another fine example of what can be achieved on a miniscule budget.
During the day Nesbitt is Jack but during the night he morphs into sequined and ott drag queen Jackie – someone who loves ‘her’ work: if not lip-synching to that anthem of gay/drag culture (Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’ – though sadly Jack won’t) then she’s telling smutty jokes to a half filled audience in a gay club in Brighton and what is wrong with that? It's great that Jackie is still working ('she' admits to being 74). The parallel drawn with the earlier Reg Varney film is that Jackie is also straight. Not overly common in this area of work and certainly the performer in question would obviously have an open attitude towards the scene. Sadly we discover shortly into the film that Jackie has terminal cancer and has but a few weeks to live. A new and young act joins the club - a 20-year old singer called Faith (Jordan Stephens – one half of hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks) - an ingénue who Jackie takes under his/her protective wing. And Faith finds the father figure he has been looking for (his own father having the 'expected' attitude towards having a non-binary son). Unfortunately the friendship between the two performers is to be short lived, though the wise and sympathetic Jackie will create a lifelong and lasting impression on the younger Faith in more ways than one. Although it does seem a little ridiculous that the club manager (who almost seems too young for such a position) initially warns Jackie not to take sexual liberties with the 20 year old… when all that Jackie did was to offer Faith a place to crash out in his home – seeing as how before Faith’s ‘residence’ was the boot of a car. In a sub-plot, the dying Jackie (who keeps on smoking like a chimney regardless) tries to make amends with his long-lost daughter as years before, he failed to turn up for his wife’s funeral.
Obviously Jackie will die at the end but we are saved from a drawn-out tear-jerker. Some of us will see what is coming round the corner but that isn't overly important. This is a film with a lot of heart. ‘Brightonite’ Jordan Stephens is just as convincing in his role, but Derren Nesbitt excels himself with this brave and courageous warts and all performance (which never lapses into embarrassing pathos). Not to be missed!