Tuck Everlasting (2002)

Reviewer: April Wroblewski

What if you could live forever on this earth? What if you could choose between immortality and death? These are questions Tuck Everlasting tackles in an imaginative way. Winifred Foster is the daughter of the wealthiest couple in the area. She lives life in luxury and ease, yet she is not happy with it. Her parents allow her to do very little; it is the beginning of the 20th century and she has the expectations of her parents and society on her shoulders, a fine lady to represent the Fosters is what is expected. A little baseball game with the boys, for example, is strictly forbidden.


Winnie has the special interest in the woods that surround her home; in some way they hold and enchant her but she is separated from them by a iron gate. Her parents feel she needs to work more on becoming a lady, an area where they feel she is sadly lacking. When they discuss the possibilities of a boarding school with her Winnie is horrified for she has no desire to leave her home. She decides, for the first time, to go past the gate and venture out into the woods. She loses her way and after traveling far she comes upon a boy drinking from a fountain of water which is streaming out of a tree. The boy is startled to catch someone watching him and he insists that Winnie leave at once. Winnie explains that she is lost and the boy offers to take her home. But before he is able to do that, his older brother enters the scene. When he sees the girl, he becomes angry, as he is worried that their family secret might be out, and he grasps her and takes her away to their house.


He takes her to a backwoods cabin hidden away from the rest of the world. She discovers a family of four lives there, the Tucks, consisting of a mother, father and two boys. Although she has to stay with them for a while, they treat her kindly and promise her that she will be able to return home again soon. But they seem unsure of what to do with her. After a time Winnie begins to feel a part of this family and comes to like them very much. Their way of life is so different from her own, she does not feel weighed down by expectations and is free to be who she wants to be. She comes to enjoy the company especially of the younger Tuck boy, Jesse, and the two often go romping through the woods together. Because Jesse cares for Winnie so deeply, he tells her the family secret. The water fountain he was drinking from the day she stumbled upon him gives immortal life to anyone who drinks from it. The Tucks have been living on this earth for over a hundred years and have not changed a bit since that day they drank from it.


Jesse, who is really 102 years old, still looks as seventeen as they day he drank the water. The story comes down to Winnie having to choose whether she will live forever and stay with Jesse, who pleads, "Live with me forever, Winnie?" or stay her mortal self and someday come to die. The movie is beautifully filmed and every camera angle is artfully placed. The musical score is gorgeous and I knew as I listened to it that I was going to have to run out and buy the soundtrack. But the story is what makes this movie worthwhile, much more than either the music or cinematography. The film is able to have an innocent air about it while it address tough issues such as life and death. It is not overtly Christian and yet I was pleased to noticed it subtly suggested that there is a true everlasting in heaven. I love the fact that this movie had my mind thinking seriously over topics long after I had seen it. So many questions would whirl though my head and I was in raptures over just that fact; not many movies have been able to keep me thinking so hard about the topics it addresses. A fountain of youth is such a tempting thing, but is it really worth it? Angus Tuck, the father, points out that the Tucks just are, they don't really live; "They are like rocks," he says sadly. They are stuck in time and cannot live as they would like, they cannot experience certain joys in life. We are questioning along with Winnie, "Which is really better?" Men lust for a never ending life, but is it really life?


The whole family could easily sit down and watch this movie, as there is not much to give offence. The youngest children might find it slow, but it did have my eight-year-old sisters complete attention. It is rated PG for violence. A man gets clunked on the head with a gun and dies. The Tucks get shot at, but as they are immortal the gun barely even wounds them. Jesse and Winnie share a couple of little kisses. There is also one scene where they jump into the water with their undergarments on. But their undergarments are still respectable: Jesse wears what looks like long-johns and Winnies is practically a dress in itself. I am proud to announce that there is absolutely no language in the movie save for a use of "Oh my God," which is screamed out by a lady in distress. Alexis Bledel as Winnie Foster and Jonathan Jackson as Jesse Tuck gave flawless performances; they had a wonderful chemistry. As a matter of fact, everyone who stepped on the screen played their part well. With a true message and an all together beautiful film, this is one not to be missed.  

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