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Tuck Everlasting is strange; very, very strange. What is even stranger is that very few people have heard of it, this despite it being over a decade old (2002) and a Disney release. Set in America in the time of corsets and horse drawn carriages, this is a fairly devastating love story with a strangely bewitching and captivating tone. You feel like this shouldn't be a good film, you shouldn't like it, yet somehow, you love it - and you can't help but keep watching.
Winnie Foster (played by Alexis Bledel,) is just the right balance between naïve, desperate, and petulant. The upper-class girl who's been kept away from other people (her parents had a major Rapunzel complex, just saying,) and one day escapes, coming across the mysterious Tuck family and starting the ill-advised love affair with Jesse Tuck.
The Tuck family have a secret - one which will lead to a great deal of trouble. They can't die, and this is the twist on the period genre that the whole film hinges on. It's also the reason the young lovers are so perfectly tragic - will it end well? Will they finally be able to be together? Will Winnie throw her lot in with the Tucks and become immortal, bound to them forever? I'm not really one for 'weepy' films, and many people wouldn't class Tuck Everlasting as a 'weepy' anyway, but Winnie Foster and Jesse Tuck's desperation is pretty heart-breaking.
The relatively slow and dreamlike tone gives this film an almost 'Sleepy Hollow' type setting, but fans of more traditional period drama shouldn't be put off - there's definitely enough here for them to enjoy. This is a beautiful film that is moving as it is strange (and as I've mentioned, it's pretty strange.)
I actually bought this film on a bit on an impulse when I was spending my most recent dooyoo redemption on Amazon. I was buying some Gilmore Girls DVDs and this came up on the 'people who bought this also bought this' recommendation. I absolutely am in love with Alexis Bledel, I really could look at her face all day. She has definitely made some poor film choices in the past (Post Grad was a real low) but having read the synopsis for this and knowing it was based on a children's book I decided to give it a go.
The film is based on the book with the same title, which was written by much loved American children's author Natalie Babbitt in 1975. I have to say I have never read anything by Natalie Babbitt, nor had I heard of her before I read about the film. Having had a little look at the books she has written, which look amazing, she seems to be published exclusively in the US - it wouldn't be something I would have come across at work because we don't stock anything by her. It was really the concept behind the book which appealed to me and made me think the film might be worth watching. I also work as a nanny for a few different families and it is always a really good thing to have a repertoire of kids films to fall back on when you find yourself stuck in on a rainy day.
The plot of the book/film is based around Winnie Foster (Alexis Bledel) who in the book is meant to be 10 but in the film is obviously slightly older. She comes from a rich family and lives a very sheltered and protected life. As a result she is extremely bored and often finds herself in trouble of some sort, which annoys and embarrasses her mother. One day she runs off into the woods surrounding her home, the woods her father owns, and comes across a tree from which a spring of water pours. What distracts her more is the incredibly hot teenage boy drinking from the stream, Jesse Tuck played by Jonathan Jackson. Jesse is part of the Tuck family who drank from the spring eight-seven years earlier and were made immortal, frozen forever in the age at which they drank the water. Jesse and his brother have been warned by their father, after being followed on numerous occasions, that no one should see them. They panic and grab Winnie, taking her hostage in their ramshackle home in the woods. As Winnie spends more time with the family she falls for Jesse and they embark on a relationship fuelled by young love.
Meanwhile the man who has been following the brothers is coming ever closer to finding them. Upon discovering Winnie is missing he convinces her parents that he is able to retrieve her but only in exchange for the woods that they own. They eventually give in and he journeys through the woods to find the family. His motive is not to save Winnie but to find and make money from the life-giving stream he has heard about. Jesse's brother Miles was married when he drank from the spring, freezing himself in his late 20's with his wife and children growing older around him. He begged his wife to drink from the spring but being superstitious and religious she refused and eventually was committed to a mental asylum. It is from his grandmother, a friend of Miles' insane wife, that the strange man in the yellow suit has heard about the stream. With dollar signs in his eyes he has pursued the Tuck family ever since, hoping to find them and their eternal spring.
I won't spoil the ending entirely for you but needless to say dramatic events ensue. The central question in the film is whether one would want to live forever as their young self. Miles, for example, has lived for many years and has seen his beloved wife go mad and die and his children grow old around him. The devastating effects of living forever, seeing those around you grow old and die and constantly worrying about being found out take their strain on the family. Their immortal powers are clearly portrayed as a double edged sword, and one that Winnie must consider carefully. Does she want to live forever with Jesse in eternal youth and love? Does she want a life of uncertainty on the run in which she can never again be normal? These are questions you will ask yourself as you watch the film, considering Winnie's plight and what you might do in your own life.
Overall, I think this is a really great and thoroughly thought-provoking film. I actually really want to read the book because I enjoyed the film so much and this the plot raises many questions about the human condition. This is a Disney film and therefore pitched at children rather than adults, but I really think it could be enjoyed by the whole family. There are definitely interesting questions raised that could provoke a lively discussion between parents and children. Ultimately though it is a really enjoyable film, with a great cast who add a lot to the already fantastic plot line. My only slight reservation would be that there is some mild violence in it, so maybe avoid watching it with really young children.
This film cost me roughly £4.50 which isn't bad for a very enjoyable film which I will happily watch again. It seems to be available from a wide range of places online so look out for the cheapest deal if you are interested in watching this. If you do decide to though, I'm sure it will be a wholly enjoyable experience.