By Kaely Monahan, October 2018 Issue.

A couple of queens walk into a bar ... and challenge the definition of drag in this British film that won the audience award for Outstanding Narrative Feature as well as the Grand Jury Award for Best International Film following its premiere at this summer’s Outfest Los Angeles.

Beneath the wigs and the sequins, however, Tucked is the story of two performers who have very little in common at first glance. But once Jackie (Derren Nesbitt) and Faith (Jordan Stephens) get past their obvious differences, they’re able to form a relationship as they discover just how much they have in common.

Jack Collins is not gay. In fact, he identifies as straight. In the film, he says he loves women and loves being with them. He also likes to wear women’s clothes and perform as Jackie, which is what led to his divorce and his lonely and celibate life since.

We meet Jackie (Jack in drag) on club stage in Brighton, England, where she delights regulars with a string of naughty jokes and astringent teasing. Saddled with showing Faith the ropes on her first night, Jackie ends up becoming the young queen’s entire support system.

Faith, a 21-year-old gender fluid queen of color, has been kicked out of her parent’s home, is currently living in her car – until Jackie finds out and insists she sleep on her couch. Their relationship is tense at first. Jackie has grown accustomed to living alone and Faith is initially apprehensive about a straight man offering drag advice. But barriers fall, and Faith comes to rely on Jackie’s sage advice and level-headedness. As the story unfolds, both performers learn mutual lessons on what it’s like to be accepted and to accept someone regardless their background or identity.

Tragedy dogs the newly formed bond, however, as Faith learns that Jackie has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Determined to make sure Jackie gets to experience her bucket list, the duo set out to check off everything from a visit to a strip club to buying coke and from Jackie’s first tattoo to tracking down his estranged daughter. Most touching, is the father-daughter reunion, which is not simply resolved. Years of anger cannot be erased, but it’s a beautiful scene that will pull at your heartstrings.

Nesbitt, 83, delivers a nuanced and powerful performance that draws you in from the very first moment. Swinging from resigned to raging at fate, he imbues Jackie with an authenticity that is to be expected from a veteran actor.

Stephens, a Brighton native, has made appearances in such “small” films as Shaun the Sheep Movie and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In this project, his rapport with Nesbitt is instantly noticeable. He’s not intimidated by Nesbitt and holds his own in each scene. With his remarkable talent, he brings a raw, moody attitude that says to “back off” and “come hither” to the role of Faith.

Although Tucked does not break new ground in terms of LGBTQ storytelling (films starring drag queens are abundant), what makes writer and director Jamie Patterson’s film stand out is his message of inclusion at a time time when we’re seeing the question of who can be a drag queen come up more and more often.

Tucked screens at 8:15 p.m. Sept. 29 as part of the Desperado LGBT Film Festival. For additional details on the film festival, click here.

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