Tangerine Movie Review
Tangerine is a 2015 indie dramedy directed by Sean S. Baker and starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. It is a pleasant surprise and one of the most authentic films of a 2015.
It follows Sin-Dee and Alexandra who are two trans women and sex workers. I really enjoyed this film because the plot and its setting are highly unexpected and unique. Rarely do movies deal with this subject matter and it is interesting to see different people presented on film. Because of its nature, I did not particularly enjoy the first half or so of this movie as it is filled with too quick pace and too much swearing and trash talk. And the characters aren’t likable from the beginning at all.
However, all that changes around the second act and the second half here is truly phenomenal which is why I ended up really liking the film. Once you get to know these characters, you finally see their true nature and how human and just like everyone else they are, despite their poor and prostitute status. I loved the ending which is just so heartwarming and simply beautiful and the friendship between these two women is at the center here and it truly is warm and so wonderful. That is easily the highlight of Tangerine.
Yes, the characters are fantastic due to some grounded and respectable characterization. Sin-Dee is annoying at first, but I really came to like her near the end and she is always really funny. Alexandra is the more realistic and definitely more likable character and you really care for her. I loved the emphasis on both of these characters and I liked their different personalities and their friendship. Razmik is also such an important and realistic character and the fact that we got to see his family before the climactic third act is a great choice as it gets you know the character and his family. All of the characters here are very well realized.
The acting is stupendous. The casting is of course commendable, but it wouldn’t have worked hadn’t these two actresses delivered and they absolutely did, both giving powerhouse performances. Kitana has the more theatrical and campy role and Mya has the subtler one, but both deliver in difficult roles and they definitely deserve some recognition for their wonderful work in bringing these two interesting characters to life.
Tangerine is very well made. As I said, it is rushed at first and pretty annoying with a really ugly soundtrack, but as it progresses, both the score and the pacing get much better and the characters and the story get better realized. Sean S. Baker did a great job as a director, the performances are superb and the movie is really well crafted and so well filmed with just using a smartphone due to budgetary constraints. But I never really saw it as the cinematography is excellent here and the movie never looks amateurish, but rather pretty professional which is such a big achievement.
The movie has a big heart which was unexpected, but I enjoyed its humanity immensely. I love when a film ends on a warm note which is why this conclusion was perfect for me. Another highlight is the scene at the donut shop where all characters meet and argue. That scene was rewarding due to excellent build-up. As for its humor, it is not present as often as I wished, but when there, it truly is stupendous and with a couple of hilarious lines. The tone is good and the dialogue is solid, but the characters and the emotion make this movie a winner. It is one of the more unique and heartwarming indies of the year and it truly is worth a watch as it can surprise everyone with its tenderness.