You might have first heard about the film Tangerine because it was shot entirely on a phone, proving the only barrier between you and film-making is yourself.
But then it took over Sundance and was the talk of the festival for its vibrancy and innovation. It’s for good reason, Tangerine is wildly entertaining and unlike anything you’ve seen in a long time. The subject matter may not be your cup of tea and a bit too subversive for some, but it will be at the forefront of your mind for those that give it a chance.
Tangerine is about Sin-Dee, who just got back to Tinseltown after being gone for 28 days. In that time, her boyfriend Chester found another girl and now she’s on the hunt to find him. Did I happen to mention that Sin-Dee just got out of jail and is a trans working girl while her boyfriend is a pimp – that’s just the beginning for this wild ride.
The beauty of Tangerine is its simplicity, utilizing a plot that has been in existence since the days of Ancient Greece. At its core, Tangerine is a journey film, true all the specifics may mask that fact, but Sin-Dee and the medley of characters are all on a journey of discovery that culminates in a fantastic and satisfying conclusion.
In a way, director Sean Baker is a marketing mastermind. In filming the movie entirely with an iPhone, Baker created a hook to intrigue even the unlikeliest of viewers. Had it not delivered, however, the conversation would have ended there and the film wouldn’t have garnered Spirit Award attention.
I can’t recall the last film I watched that was this exuberant and distinct. The characters, the dialogue, the events, the music – each constructed with the utmost mania and vivaciousness. It is almost ludicrous for the narrative’s events to occur under a day’s time frame, but the movie’s raw moxie doesn’t even cause you to second guess the feasibility.
This is what independent filmmaking is about. Tangerine peels back the veil of a subject most people would know nothing about, delving deep into its grit unflinchingly and yet, its honesty leaves the film mesmerizing and engaging.