Tangerine may be a one-stunt movie but it makes the most of its unique manner of filming and ends up satisfying the audience with a compelling narrative, a great sonic soundtrack and a rather unusual story.
Tangerine’s stunt is that the film was shot using three iPhones (5s smartphones) with additional applications to color correct and provide a widescreen look. The storyline offers a salacious salad of transgender prostitutes, decadent cab drivers, a cheating pimp/boyfriend and his cisgender mistress.
Sin-dee and Alexandra are a couple of working girls although their occupation mainly revolves around giving blowjobs to johns in Hollywood. When they are not plying the tools of their trade they hang out at a donut shop. The leads are played by trans actors, which adds a dab of realism to Tangerine not seen in larger budget films that deal with similar subjects.
Tangerine gives an unflinching look at an underground culture yet does it with a sense of uncanny humor. At one point Sin-dee kidnaps her pimp’s (other) girlfriend when she finds out he’s been cheating on her while she was in jail. As Sin-dee leads her hostage around Hollywood it becomes a small parade of outsiders with a common vice. Events culminate when everyone meets up at the donut shop on Christmas Eve.
The constant aural soundtrack has a surreal synthetic feel not unlike a modern electronic update on soundtracks for movies like Sorcerer (1977) or Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). Tangerine is both low rent and highly sophisticated at the same time.
Tangerine unwinds in an exclusive engagement at the downtown Sundance Cinemas Houston.
— Michael Bergeron