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Tangerine (2015)

It’s Christmas Eve, and the story begins as Alexandra (Mya Taylor) warns Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez): “You must promise me that there’s not going to be any drama.”

The director Sean Baker and the co-writer Chris Bergoch met the leads in a nearby LGBT centre. The plot of the film was inspired by the story they heard about a trans woman who found out her boyfriend had cheated on her with a biological woman and searched virulently for the two in the streets of Los Angeles.

One fact about this film is that it was shot with three iPhone 5s using an $8 app called Filmic Pro, on a $105,000 budget. The absence of a cumbersome camera allows freedom and invites the audience vividly into the action. It is noticeable that all the colors and the energy are captured efficiently through the phone’s cam.

Almost as colorful as the characters, the film takes place mainly in the streets of Los Angeles. Some signs and ads on the streets or on the bus are used somewhat as inter-titles within the film such as “Collateral Not Always Necessary” and “They will never let go”; almost like foreshadowing. It also includes some of the most randomly fun dialogues.

“You didn’t have to Chris Brown the bitch!”

The film seems to aggrandize the feminine energy over the masculine. Besides the two transgender woman and a “fish” (a female “with a vagina and everything”), Razmik (Karren Karagulian) the taxi driver, being the only male in his dysfunctional family, also prefers transgender prostitutes.

One thing to mention about the cops in the film is probably the absence of their will to intervene. When asked for help, the police simply tells to stay off their car. At the final scene during the “mayhem”, the cops don’t show up. But this situation doesn’t seem as if they fail to do their jobs, but simply as if they are respectful towards the internal dynamics of the city and refuse to intervene. Not just the police though; nobody around helps Dinah while she’s being dragged along the streets.

From another standpoint, the film suggests a look at how society fails to embrace these people with unconventional lifestyles. Even in the search of a lighter, Sin-Dee is ignored. Regardless of what we see as depicted as colorful, they still state: “World is cruel. God gave me a penis.” Razmik’s mother-in-law tells how Los Angeles is a lie encircled in beauty. According to her, even Christmas is fake in LA as there is no snow.

The film, with successful use of music, draws us into their world together with fun and pain. At the end of the day, friends always got your back; even Sin-Dee shares a crack pipe with Dinah after everything that had happened. The film ends as Alexandra gently offers Sin-Dee her wig after all the drama.

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