“No family. No friends.”
These are the words which first expose the true vulnerability of 74-year-old drag queen Jackie Collins (also known as Jack) in the independent British drama, Tucked. He is talking to his doctor, who has just informed him that he has weeks left to live. Hated by his daughter and plagued with regret for his past decisions, Jack has nothing but the dingy bar where he performs, and the love of a roaring audience—that is, until new queen Faith sweeps into his life complete with eight-inch killer heels. Young, stylish and non-binary, Faith represents a newer age of drag, but it is their shared exclusion from the world which bonds the two queens, and leads to a unique friendship that neither could have anticipated.
Sweet and charming despite imperfections, Tucked tells a story of emotional depth accompanied by a surprising feel-good kick. Faith is a mesmerising character with an infectious passion for life, which makes for many an entertaining exchange when paired with Jack’s gruff sarcasm. The loneliness of each character, whether it be in Faith’s homelessness or Jack’s lost family, melts away when they are together, establishing a heart-warming dynamic as Jack invites Faith to live with him. These two opposing personalities fit together neatly, a pair of lost souls coming together to find a new meaning of ‘home.’
Feel-good humour and likable characters can only go so far, however, and the film does not quite pack the punch it could have done, especially in relation to its queer themes. Faith’s gender, something respected whole-heartedly by the sweet-natured Jack, is disrespected constantly by all other characters. Though this serves to amplify Jack’s appeal to the audience, and reflects a genuine ignorance within British society, such jabs and jeers against the one character in the film who is proudly queer feel cruel and unnecessary. This violence rarely leads to anything, bar a clever retort or two from Faith, leaving an empty space where genuine discussion of the gender binary could have been.
Altogether, Tucked occasionally feels like a collection of sweet scenes, with the overarching narrative devoted to Jack’s reconnection with his daughter, rather than his more emotionally-provocative relationship with Faith. This leads to a neat wrapping-up of their troubles which seems to ignore the situations that brought the pair together in the first place; a meaningful message is sacrificed for a feel-good ending. Still, Tucked is an enjoyable watch and will bring tears to the eyes of anyone partial to a found-family dynamic, and the championing of unconditional love above all.
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