Take a Drink: whenever someone says “Bitch” (careful, this happens a lot)
Take a Drink: for lens flare
Take a Drink: for every new argument
Do a Shot: each time a clearly bad decision backfires
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) are two trans-gendered prostitutes working in the Los Angeles area. Sin-Dee has just returned on Christmas Eve from a month-long jail term, and is looking to get back into the game when Alexandra accidentally reveals that Sin-Dee’s Pimp/Boyfriend Chester (James Ransone) has been sleeping around. This news sends Sin-Dee Rella on a revenge mission on foot across town.
Meanwhile Armenian cab driver Razmik (Karren Karagulian) travels LA in desperation looking for a Trans-Gendered prostitute. Razmik has a wife, which he doesn’t let stop him from paying for “services” that he cannot get at home. Alexandra, meanwhile, is passing out flyers all over town trying to get people to show up for her singing performance at a dive bar in the area.
Tangerine has received a great deal of notoriety for the budget-saving decision to shoot the entire film on modified iPhones. There isn’t even a hint of amateurism, and considering the video quality on iPhones, it takes a hell of a cinematographer to make this not appear cheap. The real surprise given this decision is that it doesn’t feel like an extended Youtube clip. Tangerine is a seriously visual movie, the framing of every shot carefully chosen to enhance the mood .
Director Sean S. Baker guides the story along a circuitous route, with multiple story threads that converge at just the right time. The story takes place over the course of a day, but never bogs down, as there isn’t a wasted moment on screen. As Sin-dee and Alexandra move around the city, their personalities clash, often to hilarious results.
What makes Tangerine deeper than your average urban comedy is in the way the film takes no prisoners. The life of these two prostitutes isn’t romanticized; they have anger management issues, are prone to violence at times, do drugs, and are generally rough customers. The characters in Tangerine are the sort of people that come right out of the best John Waters movies.
Tangerine can occasionally resort to being a bit too over the top, which threatens to derail empathy for its characters. The film usually wastes no time in rebounding from this with a real human moment, but sometimes the rebound isn’t quite enough to save the moment (The fact that Sin-Dee drags a woman kicking and screaming across most of Los Angeles, for instance). Ultimately, the film is more about the smaller moments characters have, between the “drama”. These little moments of poignancy color the film in a very positive way that more than makes up for any of the smaller weaknesses.
The film may be filthy, the characters might be as well, but there is also a strong sense of love for them. Director Sean S. Baker conveys the humanity of its characters with humor and sensitivity in equal measure.