It is Christmas Eve in Los Angeles and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is back on the block after being locked up for 28 days in the slammer. What makes it different is that Sin-Dee is a transgendered sex worker (or prostitute to us old timers!).When she hears that her pimp boyfriend (James Ransone has not been faithful during her incarceration Sin-Dee and her transgendered best friend, Alexandra (Mya Taylor), embark on a mission to get to the bottom of this scandalous rumour, and so begins their journey through various subcultures of L.A., including an Armenian family dealing with their own problems of infidelity.
Whilst a reviewer would not normally comment on the choice of cameras used in the production, this has to be the exception because the film was shot using the iPhone 5S. It enabled director, Sean Baker, was able to use a minimal film crew to get interesting shots quickly in locations and positions where it wouldn’t have been possible using standard kit. They were able to shoot hand-held without drawing attention to themselves. It also helped to give the film its unique “look” which was also assisted by ramping up the colour in post to give a saturated alternate-world effect.
Knowing that the film was shot on a phone does seem to go even further on the path of democratising film making. However, it must be said that it was not really a case of pulling an iPhone from one’s pocket and shooting a film. More difficult than that. An anamorphic lens was used with a special adapter, and those in the know will appreciate that, although a wonder of our age, the audio reproduction is not up to professional standards and so more professional equipment was used for sound. The film is not as low-budget as at first might appear.
Tangerine is a definitely original, very funny, and yet has warmth and a heart. It runs along at a frenetic pace with its alternate lifestyle characters and oddballs. Very entertaining.
Review by Eric Jukes
Tangerine is out on home entertainment on 28 March