Director Sean Baker takes an alternative twist on the LA sex industry scene in Tangerine. The film brings the besmirched lifestyle of trans-prostitutes to life in this new experience filmed completely on an iPhone 5s.
The film surrounds two best friends, Alexandra (Mya Taylor) and Sin-Dee (Kitana KiKi Rodriguez), and their day to day activities that occur on the intersection of Santa Monica and Highland, an area where men get their fix of transitioning prostitutes. Sin-Dee drags Alexandra through a series of escapades when she learns that her pimp boyfriend, Chester (James Ransone), has been unfaithful during her stay in jail with a biological “fish,” Dyna.
Corner to corner, we are introduced to the community through intimate interactions with supporting characters like Razmik (Karren Karagulian), an Armenian cab driver who has a fetish for transexual hookers and Dyna (Mickey O’Hagan), a girl who gets caught up as a liaison in a complex pimp/hooker relationship. Along the way, we learn that everyone experiences the same tribulations, regardless of sexual or gender orientation. Love and betrayal play out in exciting and explosive scenes caught under the tangerine LA skyline followed with zooming anamorphic lens. Iconic landmarks follow along the story as sequences transition through unbeat trap music while the two working girls run through the city on Christmas eve – Alexandra attempts to pursue fame whilst looking out for Sin-dee as she tries to find retribution. Both girls are determined, stubborn, and confident in their hilarious antics, falling no short of sass and vulgar.
Tangerine is a delightfully out of place film that elevates the generic Hollywood cinema to a unique, modern reality played out on the big screen, bringing another category of ethnic and sexual understanding to contention in mainstream media.