As the rights of trans people are gaining more focus, they can hope to be treated with the respect they deserve in a society that has traditionally referred to them with a wink and a giggle. Though the LGBTQ world may still call them “drag queens”, we can wish that terms like “tranny” become passé.
Jamie Patterson’s Tucked might be preconceived as a comical, carnival-esque tale of a 75-year-old transvestite and his swishy young pal in a fringe culture, but it is not that at all. It is a remarkably human story about people who happen to be trans – eschewing categorisation by gender, sexual preference, race or age.
As if to open with a tongue-in-cheek cliché, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive is rather awkwardly lip-synced by an overly made-up, charming, very mature drag queen, Jackie (Derren Nesbitt), who proceeds to command the room with hilarious bawdy one-liners. Theme is quickly introduced as the protagonist collapses and finds out she has advanced cancer and only seven weeks to live. Clearly devastated, despite this prognosis she continues performing, chain smoking and trying to enjoy life. When she becomes a mentor for a young singer at their club, Faith (Jordan Stephens), taking her under her wing, the two become buddies following a beating by homophobic thugs in an alley. With its “father’/’son” bond, as they call it, their relationship is very sweet – two people who help each other in ways that are life-changing.
Defying stereotypes is key: contrary to his stage persona, Jackie is not gay, much to the confused dismay of his club boss, who accuses him of seducing Faith. The latter refuses to be put in a box: “I’m not a girl, I’m not a boy, I’m an individual”.
Also crucial to the narrative is Jackie’s rift with her daughter, which resulted from a marital break-up after “my wife came home and found me dancing to Tom Jones in her wedding dress”.
With superb writing, the dialogue is smart, witty and moving. Nesbitt is a terrific actor, performing Jackie with insight and aplomb, and Stephens is exceptional as Faith. Evocative cinematography includes gorgeous wide shots of scenery and moody close-ups, and the music soundtrack is exhilarating.
Tucked is a gem of a movie – funny but also deeply human, compassionate, sensitive, perceptive and intelligent. Containing no moralising, pretension, nor presupposition, the film is simply heart-warming, thought-provoking and real.
Tucked is released in select cinemas on 17th May 2019.
Watch the trailer for Tucked here: