April 10, 2016
Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian
Runtime: 88 minutes
Palm Springs International Film Awards: Directors to Watch Award; San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Seattle Film Critics Circle Awards, Independent Spirit Awards: Best Supporting Actress: Mya Taylor. 12 other award wins, 36 nominations.
“Tangerine” is the wildest screwball transgender comedy since Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon donned lipstick, mascara and full-tilt female get-ups in “Some Like It Hot.”” – Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Raw” and “gritty” best describes the tone of Tangerine, a take-no-prisoners view of life in an L.A. replete with ’hos, pimps, cops, and fast food. Actually, the movie is also a raucous, darkly funny comedy in the hands of director Sean Baker and co-writer Chris Bergoch.
Incredibly, the whole movie was shot on iPhones with yellow filters and a frequently phenomenal wide-screen look. This seeming gimmick lends great intimacy to a highly mobile tale more about texture than drama.
Drama is exactly what Alexandra (Mya Taylor) hopes to avoid when she has to inform best pal Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), fresh from a month in jail, that her pimp boyfriend took up with a “white fish” while she was away.
This sets off a chase through various unwholesome parts of town on an incongruous Christmas Eve, with our two trans sex workers acting as our potty-mouthed tour guides.
Despite the loose, mean-streets concept and a soundtrack that jump-cuts between classical music and bass-thumping electronica, the movie often feels like a sharp-edged stage play.
There’s a subplot with an Armenian cab driver (Karren Karagulian) unhappy with his traditional home life, but this pays off with pretty amusing cameos, especially by ex–Western star Clu Gulager as a drunken passenger.
In the end you’re both amused and moved by the big-screen dreams of small-time hustlers who, whatever the margins, want love like everyone else.