A Christmas film about transgender prostitution. Now, I can’t imagine this showing alongside Home Alone 2 on ITV, but it does make for a gripping story, told with humour and riddled with conflict, drug abuse, cheating and a fellatio scene staged through a drive-thru car wash… Tangerine isn’t for the faint hearted.
Tangerine is helmed by a great performance from first timer Kitana Kiki Rodriguez (Sin-Dee, right) a trans-prostitute seeking her cheating pimp boyfriend – he’s cheating with a straight girl; ‘like, vagina and everything?’. Sin-Dee is side kicked by Alexandra (May Taylor, left) who whilst trying to assist Sin-Dee track down her boyfriend, becomes involved with Taxi Driver (Razmik), a prostitute obsessive, who’s mother-in-law suspects him of foul-play. This melting pot of ingredients looks set to boil over, and as time passes, the bubbles grow bigger.
‘Feels fake. Los Angeles is a beautifully wrapped lie.’
The Duplas Brother’s are the Netflix kings, chances are you’ve seen one of their films. What’s staggering about this film is the $100,000 budget; Tangerine is mightily impressive given this constraint. Shooting the film solely on iPhone 5s’ (using Kickstarter Anamorphic lenses), meant money could be used for locations and extras. The use of anamorphic lenses gives the cinematography a wider berth, with a rough grainy warmth to otherwise mundane locations.
There was a fair backlash from the LGBT community when Jared Leto played the role of Rayon in his Oscar-winning performance for Dallas Buyers Club, as there is similarly for Eddie Redmayne (Danish Girl). I’m not entirely convinced by the argument, but hopefully Tangerine puts a little of that to rest and pushes transgender acting to the forefront. The problem is not transgender acting, the issue is numbers and figures. Studios only want to put money into something they know has a return and unfortunately (for now at least) there aren’t any ‘big name’ trans actors.
Politics aside I wanted to finish the article with a profound quote about it being a statement for transgender’s, but I’m not sure it is, so I’ll leave it to you the discerning viewer to decide. The characters are fuel (like any other decent comedy movie) regardless of their physical status. Whatever way you look at it, it’s just so easy to enjoy this witty, pretty mental at times, dramedy, so get on board. Tangerine is available on Netflix USA as of 17/01/16