Following her release from prison, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a transgender prostitute, finds out that her pimp boyfriend has been sleeping around. With her friend Alexendra (Mya Taylor) in toe, Sin-Dee goes on a rampage across Hollywood in search of the unfaithful partner and the women he has been creeping with. That hunt is also interspersed with the work of an Armenia taxi driver, Razmik (Karren Karagulian), who is lusting over the prostitutes on the street.
Something Tangerine handles well (thankfully) is the use of transgender actors and characters; with the film essentially giving an upfront “fuck off” if you’re not okay with such. It’s a refreshing attitude to see. There is no need for a delicate and carefully explained understanding of the sexuality of characters and, equally, casting transgender people as a gimmick isn’t going to force a ticket sale out of general public. Thank you Tangerine, for just getting on with the story.
Going into the flick, I certainly didn’t think Straight Outta Compton would have a contender for best soundtrack of 2015 but Tangerine gives Compton a real run for its money. Sin-Dee’s wig splitting action is always accompanied with heart-pounding EDM, and when that is mixed with the stylistic choice to shoot the film on iPhones, it really makes for a sensory feast.
Clocking in at 88 minutes long, Tangerine does have a problem as the story reaches its natural conclusion a good 10 minutes before the credits roll. What this means is that the “damn, life goes on” ending is superseded by a bolted on ‘happy ending’ (the movie trope, not the prostitute action) that certainly jars with the preceding movie.
Tangerine is an indie gem that should be celebrated for its “shut the fuck up and watch” attitude that really catches your eyes and ears. It successfully grabs you in with strong performances from the acting trio, its presentation and story from the get-go. Tangerine is, ultimately, a ride worth taking.