Tucked

 

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A Brighton filmmaker puts his town on the map in a work notable for its two central performances.

 
Tucked
  

Set amidst Brighton's gay scene, this appealing but uneven movie is the work of a prolific writer/director who is nevertheless new to me, Jamie Patterson. He frequently films in the town of his birth but in other respects Tucked finds him entering on new territory (a number of his earlier films have been horror flicks). In the event, it is the gay element that works best and in particular the film's portrait of the friendship that develops between Jackie (Derren Nesbitt), a 74-year-old drag queen, and a young man, the 21-year-old Faith (Jordan Stephens). They meet in the nightclub where Jackie regularly appears and where Faith is taking the floor for the first time as a singer.

 

Although this piece is contemporary, it does not initially feel like a modern film. At the outset, we see Jackie performing and his old-style blue jokes put me in mind of earlier decades when, as Funny Cow recently reminded us, working men's clubs in the north of England thrived on this kind of humour. Furthermore, this is a gay tale which, contrary to most such movies today, excludes sex scenes. Later on, however, Faith, while acknowledging that he is gay, is at pains to reject standard definitions of male and female and we learn that, contrary to everybody's assumptions about him, Jackie himself is not gay but a cross-dresser whose marriage collapsed when his secret proclivity was discovered by his wife - an event that had also led to estrangement from his daughter, Lily (April Pearson).

 

Patterson's screenplay is very well judged when it comes to the bond between Jackie and Faith which starts to develop just after Jackie has learnt that he has aggressive cancer and thus only a short time to live. The portrayal of their relationship avoids mawkishness and is further helped by the strikingly good performances from veteran Nesbitt (a career best?) and from Stephens who, known as a singer, displays considerable acting skills here. The film lasts only 81 minutes, but it does struggle a bit in the second half to find apt plot developments. Such scenes as Jackie's visit to a strip club to see a naked woman and his one-off use of cocaine for old time's sake feel less authentic as well as being insubstantial, but the reunion with Lily, if not wholly persuasive in the writing, adds some weight and April Pearson is a pleasing presence in this role. The addition of some songs on the soundtrack as backing will appeal to some more than to others, but what is beyond doubt is the banality of the sentimental scene of Jackie visiting his late wife's grave and talking to her. In short, quite a lot goes awry, but never the central performances and never the scenes which, centred on what Jackie and Faith come to mean to each other, are the very heart of the film. Despite the weaker elements, there are good reasons to seek out Tucked.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Jordan Stephens, Derren Nesbitt, April Pearson, Steve Oram, Joss Porter, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Ruben Crow, Brendon Burns, Stephanie Diane Starlet.

 

Dir Jamie Patterson, Pro Finn Bruce, Screenplay Jamie Patterson, Ph Paul O'Callaghan, Pro Des Laura Little, Ed David Fricker, Music Richey Rynkowski, Costumes Carli Sanwdeiss and Lucy Upton-Prowse.

 

Belstone Pictures/Motormouth Films/Jump Start Productions-Bulldog Film Distribution.
81 mins. UK. 2017. Rel: 17 May 2019. Cert. 15.