Tangerine

Merry Christmas Eve, Bitch!

Year Released : 2015Tangerine_(film)_POSTER
Director: Sean S Baker
Cast : Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, James Ransone, Mickey O’Hagan, Karren Karagulian and Alla Tumanian.

Finally, a film with transgender main characters that doesn’t focus on the fact that they’re transgendered. For those that don’t know or haven’t read any of my previous reviews, I am transgendered myself and whilst it doesn’t bother me how transgender characters are portrayed in a lot of movies, it does bother me how people automatically assume things about me because of how they have seen characters act in films.

So based on that, just once I’d love to see a different portrayal of transgendered characters and judging by reviews and various others things, that might be what I’m about to get.

Interestingly, there has been a campaign for Taylor to be nominated for the Best Actress award at the Academy Awards, something that would make her a history maker as the first transgendered person to be nominated for one of the main awards.

It’ll will be interesting to see if it makes the mistakes of making the film all about their transgenderism, and whether Taylor is good enough to be held in such esteem.

Plot

Transgendered prostitutes Sin-Dee Rella (Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Taylor) are having a catch up on Christmas Eve and Sin-Dee reveals that she is thinking about breaking up with her boyfriend, Chester (Ransone). Alexandra gets really excited that Sin-Dee is finally acting on Chester cheating on her, but the problem is that Sin-Dee doesn’t know and angrily sets out to the woman who’s sleeping with him, although she doesn’t know any details other than that her name starts with D.

Whilst Alexandra goes about her normal business during the day, including servicing several clients, Sin-Dee goes in hunt of the girl who has been sleeping with Chester, eventually finding the woman, named Dinah (O’Hagan), who basically suggests that Sin-Dee being Chester’s girlfriend is a laughable concept as he doesn’t have girlfriends.

All hell breaks loose when Sin-Dee eventually finds Chester, but it isn’t only Dinah that she should have been worried about.

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The typical movie representation of transgendered characters?

Whilst there are many transgendered characters in Tangerine, the very fact that they’re transgendered is portrayed as secondary to the plot of the film. Taylor and Rodriguez are both excellent in their roles and whilst they and the characters are openly transgender, that fact isn’t overly-referenced during the film, and I found this remarkably refreshing.

More often than not, films starring transgendered people, or about transgendered characters, focus on nothing more than their change of gender, but that’s definitely not the case in “Tangerine”. The fact that the characters are transgendered is treated with respect and the way that the characters interact with them is in that mould.

There are some very interesting representations of the non-transgendered characters though, with two cops talking about Alexandra and using the male pronouns, but then as soon as she’s in ear shot they switch to female pronouns. It’s an interesting study that shows that what people say about people and directly to people are two very different things.

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The soundtrack for Tangerine is absolutely fantastic and adds to the film. The film half of the film is basically putting Sin-Dee into the phrase “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, she is genuinely scary in her actions and the soundtrack backs that up, almost bringing it into an angry form of chaos. It is genuinely engaging and when she eventually finds Dinah, you genuinely fear for the character’s life.

Throughout the 87 minute run time, the music consistently impresses you and brings you into the environment, and it also helps establish the atmosphere of a grimy

The dialogue is fantastic in it’s openness and fluidic nature. It’s witty and dramatically harsh for example, when talking about a server at a donut shop, the dialogue is as follows;

Sin-Dee : “Does your husband ever cheat on you?”

Chester : “Who’s going to marry her smiling ass?”

Sin-Dee : “The one who orders her online!”

It’s quick, it’s witty and ignoring the fact that it’s a bit racist, it’s a fantastically written line, and the dialogue is of a similar nature throughout the film. I’m not going to lie and pretend I’ve been to LA, or even America, and I know very little about life in the street sort of setting, but it all strikes me as genuine and very realistic to the environment.

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There are few boundaries that “Tangerine” isn’t willing to cross and it not only crosses them, it runs straight over them and several miles down the road. It is remarkably honest and best of all, fresh. No scene is without purpose and everything contributes to the story, something which isn’t the case in a lot of films.

This is shown no more prominently than a scene in a shop called “Donut Time” about 15 minutes from the end, in which all of the relevant storylines come together. There is a scene about ten minutes long in which Sin-Dee confronts Chester, then argues with Dinah, it reveals that there is a marriage coming, then a cab-driver who is attracted to transgendered prostitutes comes in to find Sin-Dee, some to be followed by his family. It’s a chaotic scene, with several different elements and it’s so well done that I can’t praise it highly enough.

Now onto the final point and the performance of Mya Taylor. Now whilst Mya Taylor does well in the film and is great to watch, is she worthy of a Best Actress nomination for this performance? In a word, no. That’s nothing against her in the slightest, she does very well, but I prefer the outing from Rodriguez, who shows a larger variety in her performance, and has more flexibility.

Again, don’t get me wrong, Taylor puts in a great performance, but for me Rodriguez does a better job.

Tangerine3

Summary

“Tangerine” is unlike anything that I have ever seen before. I can’t even start comparing it to another film as it is completely original. To that effect I stand up and applaud all of those involved in the film, it was 87 minutes of my life that was well spent.approved

When the film came to it’s conclusion, I was sat there wanting more and that’s exactly what you want from a film, you don’t want it to stop, and I would go as far as saying that out of all of the low-budget independent films I reviewed in 2015, this was one of the best.

The acting is brilliant, the soundtrack is fantastic and other than not really having much of a point for the first 20/30 minutes, there isn’t a single complaint that I can make about the film.

I would definitely recommend “Tangerine”

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