AAging drag queen is diagnosed with terminal cancer and makes a new friend in this touching and surprisingly funny end-of-life drama set in Brighton, with a terrific 83-year-old performance Derren Nesbitt. It must have taken some guts out of him to let the camera come in so close, following him naked in the shower and under the harsh light.
Nesbitt plays Jack Collins, who initially looks like a retired lighter. But, under a towering beehive wig, Jack becomes Jackie, the main draw of a drag club, performing mildly offensive non-PC comedy routines that are all the rage with millennial audiences. Jack’s diagnosis comes after he collapses on stage. But the show must go on, and a few nights later he saves a young singer, Faith (Jordan Stephens, half of the hip-hop duo Kicking), homophobic attackers.
Faith is non-binary, assigned male at birth. Jack is straight; he was once married and has a daughter, but that life is long gone. Nesbitt beautifully reveals the complexity of this man: the thrill of grief, his regret for hurting the people he loved alongside his dignity to do what he loves, holding out two fingers to enemies.
Still, there are false emotional beats here and there, and scenes that don’t feel real – like the visit to the hospital where a doctor gives Jack the precise six to seven week prognosis. While some films are made for the LGBTQ community, Tucked is more interested in building a portrait of kindness and friendship than exploring identity.