Colourful by name, colourful by nature – here’s why Sean Baker’s comedy drama about two transgender women is not to be missed
Tangerine, Monday 18 February, 11.15pm, Film4/HD (CH 429/428)
Put simply, Tangerine is the kind of film that grabs you by the scruff of the neck with a pair of exquisitely manicured hands and never quite lets go.
That said, when you consider its plot, characters, cast and direction, it’s easy to see why – with acclaimed writer/director Sean Baker (The Florida Project) delivering an absorbing and thoroughly unique piece of independent film-making.
The film throws you in at the deep end from the get-go, opening with transgender sex-worker Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) as she meets up with a friend in West Hollywood after a short stint in prison.
When she then discovers her boyfriend/pimp has been cheating on her while she’s been locked up (and on Christmas Eve, no less), well, to say all hell breaks loose would be an understatement.
Sin-Dee, her friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) and Chester (the aforementioned pimp-slash-boyfriend, expertly played by James Ransone) are loud, in your face, colourful characters that bring a brilliant mix of pace, emotion and humour to Tangerine’s relatively short running time.
Baker’s use of actors with no previous experience (both Rodriguez and Taylor were recruited at an LGBT Center in Los Angeles) alongside more established talent such as The Wire’s Ransone makes for a combination as chaotic as it is touching.
After a string of acclaimed, low-budget hits, Baker’s decision to then shoot the film on three iPhone 5s adds a surprising sense of realism to the story, with the distinct, smartphone-cinematography wrenching the audience into the thick of every ear-shredding argument and side-splitting, street-side rant in a visceral and undoubtedly entertaining way.
Tangerine is, without doubt, a truly unique piece of cinema. It will have you curled up on your sofa in a fit of laughter one minute then sat still as a stone in the next, and for that reason alone, it’s well worth a watch.
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