Produced by the Duplass Brothers and directed by Sean Baker (Starlet), Tangerine is a bold and energetic look at a side of Los Angeles rarely seen on screen. The film follows two transgendered prostitutes over the course of one day, Christmas Eve. Shot completely on iPhones, the rough around the edges look of the film compliments the tough and unglamorous lives of the characters.
Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) has just been released from a stint in jail. While reconnecting with her bestie Alexandra (Mya Taylor), she hears some upsetting news that sets her off on a tear to find her pimp boyfriend. Quickly deciding to abandon her friend, Alexandra, meanwhile, tries to convince people to come to her show happening that night. The best friends’ storylines are also intercut with a married cabdriver Razmik (Karren Karagulian) who has a penchant for transgender prostitutes.
The plot in the film is pretty thin. And the climax of the film involves all of these characters screaming at each other at a donut shop. More than once Tangerine verges on crossing the camp line into just plain ridiculous. But as an audience member, you stay along for the ride because thankfully that line is never quite crossed. The non-stop pace of the film also helps one from ever getting bored; as Sin-Dee goes on her tear of some of the poorest blocks in the city of angels you never know what drug dealer, hooker or client she’s going to meet next.
The chemistry between Rodriguez and Taylor is the real reason Tangerine is worth the cost of admission. These two real-life friends display some of the sweetest moments of friendship ever caught on camera. The last scene in the laundromat for instance is filled with such tenderness you’d have a heart of stone not to be affected by it.
Tangerine opens in Montreal on July 31.