December 8, 2015


Sean Baker, 2015
Somewhere between the grittiness of Larry Clark's 1995 Kids and the unrestrained three-trans-female comedy To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything lies Tangerine - a micro-budget indie picture, produced by the always ambitious Duplass brothers, shot on 3 iPhone 5’s. Visually, it’s a luminous piece that has you immediately forgetting that it was created on something that’s in your own pocket. But it’s a character unraveling piece combined with a revenge drama, all taking place over the course of a single day. Sin-Dee (played by scene-stealer Kiki Rodriguez), is fresh out of jail and eager to unleash her fury on pimp Chester after discovering he had been sleeping with someone else while she was locked up. Aided by companion Alexandra, she promises her “no drama” and goes on to give her nothing but drama as she scours the back-alleys and decaying streets of Los Angeles looking for the guy. You get a sense that nothing very violent will happen when Sin-Dee reunites with Chester, that it’s more about the journey and not the destination.

It’s really a film about the lost souls of L.A. Most of the characters depicted are misfits just trying to find their place in the world. Some of them are not even looking for much either, maybe just some stability and a roof over their head. Sin-Dee, clearly the most short-tempered, is looking for security in a life filled with nothing but turbulence. Alexandra aspires to be on the stage with genuinely engaged faces watching from the crowd. Armenian Taxi Driver Razmik is stuck in a marriage that he is not interested in and looks elsewhere. But because of their jumbled place in society, they end up continuing to live their lonely lives that involve them roaming through the dirty streets. They are people that want to be acknowledged. Acknowledged by someone more than a random traveler willing to throw them a few dollars.

As mentioned before, Rodriguez is the stand-out performance of the movie. But there is much to remember about this film that can be accused of being aimless but is undeniably honest. It’s a well-crafted film that balances comedy with sadness. Focusing on some interesting people that have some real struggles in the world. Where having a dollar for the bus and having another dollar for a donut is a good day. The fact that it was all done on such readily available equipment just shows that anyone can make a film, and hopefully Tangerine inspires a generation of young filmmakers to do just that.

No comments:

Post a Comment