There’s a whole lot of buzz around this one. The characters are interesting, to be sure. And the way it was shot on iPhones is pretty cool, too. But I’m not going to go so far as to say it deserves Oscar consideration, as some have. The film is a day in the life of couple of BFFs who happen to be transgender prostitutes on the streets of Los Angeles. It’s Christmas eve and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) just got out of jail. Alexandra (Mya Taylor) is there for her, and she’s also trying to scare up an audience for her singing debut later in the evening. But when Sin-Dee mentions her boyfriend, Alexandra hints that he hasn’t exactly been faithful while she was away. And that kicks the film into gear as Sin-Dee goes on a rampage to find the “other woman” and show her who’s boss.
And find her, she does. Dinah (Mickey O’Hagan) is also a working girl and she’s at work when Sin-Dee bursts in, drags her out and then manhandles her all over town looking for Chester, the pimp boyfriend. It’s a tragi-comic slice of life tale, with some tricking, some drugging, and a lot of drama from Sin-Dee along the way. And ultimately it is a story about friendship and belonging. (The scene with Sin-Dee and Alexandra in the laundromat is amazingly touching.) There is a concurrent storyline about an Armenian taxi driver who has a thing for Sin-Dee, but it doesn’t go anywhere very interesting.
Tangerine was a bit slow in getting going, but once it kicked in, it was captivating. It is shot entirely on the mean streets in LA where these girls live, giving you a very different feel for the city from most Hollywood movies. And the musical choices are oddly fun. It is definitely not a mainstream flick, but it is unlike anything else out there. I look forward to the actors’ and director’s next outings. They are ones to watch.
Tangerine is coming to Netflix this week.