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Film Review: Tuck Everlasting – A Bittersweet Period Drama

tuck everlasting
Tuck Everlasting. Photo: Disney.


Released in 2002, Tuck Everlasting was released by the Walt Disney Company and based on the novel of the same name by Natalie Babbitt. Tuck Everlasting is the story of the Tucks, a family of immortals, and a girl, Winnie Foster, who falls in love with one of them. Not only about love, it is also a story about choice, and what it means to truly live.

tuck everlasting
Alexis Bledel as Winnie Foster. Photo: Disney

I should admit right now that I have never read the book Tuck Everlasting, but I have heard wonderful things about it. It is on The List. According to my sources, there are some differences between the film and the book, mainly the age of Winnie Foster (she’s ten in the book). Otherwise, I’m assuming that the standard differences apply.

tuck everlasting
Winnie and Jesse Tuck. Photo: Disney

Starring Jonathan Jackson as Jesse, Alexis Bledel as Winnie, Scott Bairstow as Miles, Ben Kingsley as the Man in Yellow, William Hurt as Angus Tuck, and Sissy Spacek as Mae Tuck, Tuck Everlasting was released on October 11th, 2002. It was nominated for a Critics Choice Award and two Saturn Awards, winning an award at the Heartland Film Festival.

Directed by Jay Russell, who also directed The Water Horse and Ladder 49, the screenplay was adapted by Jeffrey Lieber (Lost) and James Hart (1992’s Dracula, Hook, Contact). Additionally, the film has an amazing soundtrack that enhances the story without overwhelming it. The music is by William Ross, the same composer behind The Hunger Games, Forrest Gump, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

tuck everlasting
The Tucks. Photo: Disney

The Tucks, Angus, Mae and their sons Miles and Jesse, have a secret; they are immortal due to drinking from a spring in the forest. As the story progresses, we see them struggle with never aging or dying (despite being shot or poisoned). They also wrestle with what it means to live forever when everyone around them dies. This conflict is told through reflections to Winnie, the tragic story of Miles Tuck and his wife and children, and the sad story of the family cat.

Every ten years, Miles and Jesse Tuck return to their parents’ home from traveling the world. While it is a time of rejoicing to have the family together again, there is also sadness. Not only are they going to be separated again soon, but this time, Miles feels sure that the boys are being tracked by someone who is searching for the spring. Who is this man, and how did he hear about them?

While the Tucks are struggling with their immortality and this new threat, young Winifred “Winnie” Foster is struggling with the confines of her life as a privileged young woman at the turn of the century.  Feeling trapped by her life, Winnie runs away into the forest and gets lost.

Quite accidentally, she finds Jesse Tuck at the Tuck’s spring and because she is close to uncovering the secret, is taken back to the Tuck’s house until they can trust that she won’t betray them. While she is there, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious Tucks and their lifestyle, falling in love with Jesse.

tuck everlasting
Ben Kingsley as The Man in Yellow. Photo: Disney

Meanwhile, the mysterious Man in Yellow is hunting for the Tucks. As Winnie is caught between the world she is from and her love for Jesse Tuck and a longing for more, she is confronted with the truth about the Tucks and asked the question, would she want to live forever?  Meanwhile, her parents are frantically searching for her and, assuming she has been kidnapped, are desperate to find her.

The Man in Yellow makes a deal with Winnie’s parents; he will guarantee Winnie’s safe return from her kidnappers in exchange for their forest, a piece of land that he knows has the magic spring. When he finds Winnie and the Tucks, his actions set in motion things that change the course of Winnie’s life forever, forcing everyone into action in unexpected ways.

Tuck Everlasting asks several questions. Is it the number of years that you live that matter, or what you do with that time that counts? When you truly live, are you living in fear of death, or are you embracing your life as you go, while knowing that it will someday end? As Winnie and the Tucks ask, answer, and wrestle with these questions, so does the audience.

tuck everlasting
Winnie and Jesse. Photo: Disney

Winnie’s romance with Jesse is played wonderfully. Bledel and Jackson have a realistic chemistry, and you find yourself rooting for Winnie and Jesse. As Jesse teaches her about the world beyond her front door, Winnie learns more about herself as well. They seem like a real first love, and their romance is a major part of Winnie’s growth as a character.

Overall, Tuck Everlasting is a film that should not be missed. Although the ending is bittersweet, it’s a wonderful period drama that wrestles with what it means to live, and the choices we have to make. Do not fear death, Angus Tuck says, but fear a life not lived. If you are looking for a movie that will make you cry and laugh and think, Tuck Everlasting is a great movie for a cold winter’s afternoon.

Fun Facts: Tuck Everlasting was the film debut of Alexis Bledel, aka, Rory Gilmore. Jared Padalecki who played Rory’s first boyfriend, Dean, had been offered the role of Jesse Tuck, because of the chemistry he and Bledel had on Gilmore Girls. Wanting to work with a wider range of people, Padalecki turned down the role.


Four and a half corset rating

“You had me at hello”


four heart rating

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Silver Petticoat Review Logo Our romance-themed entertainment site is on a mission to help you find the best period dramas, romance movies, TV shows, and books. Other topics include Jane Austen, Classic Hollywood, TV Couples, Fairy Tales, Romantic Living, Romanticism, and more. We’re damsels not in distress fighting for the all-new optimistic Romantic Revolution. Join us and subscribe. For more information, see our About, Old-Fashioned Romance 101, Modern Romanticism 101, and Romantic Living 101.
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By on December 26th, 2015

About Bailey Cavender

Bailey grew up in North Idaho where she was encouraged from a young age to love reading, writing and learning; as a result, storytelling is a major part of her life. She believes that no story is ever the same to anyone and that everyone has a story to tell. With that in mind, she someday hopes to write a humorous and inspiring book (or ten, either way).

Her books, "A Journey Through Disney," "The Mermaid," and "Dear NSA: One Man's Adventures in Phone-Tapping and Blogging," can be found on Amazon.

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