The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Tangerine (Magnolia Pictures)
Directed by Sean S. Baker
Written by Sean S. Baker & Chris Bergoch
Tangerine is an ultra low-budget street-level dark comedy about two transgender sex workers, hookers, best friends, and their adventures in one epic day; a day when one is released from a short stay in prison and the other mistakenly tells her that her boyfriend (and pimp) was cheating while she was away, cheating with a real girl.
Tangerine is very funny but also a bit disturbing for its drug use and its violence and its lifestyle. And by lifestyle I mean the prostitution. The transgender theme is handled brilliantly. And the two leads are funny and at the same time tragic. It’s a very good movie if you make it to the payoff. You just have to make it through a lot of street-level craziness. With hookers and drug addicts. But it’s funny. Tangerine is funny as fuck but it’s not really for the faint of heart.
Tangerine is a movie with one hell of a payoff. A collision of sorts. Sin-Dee, a transgender hooker, has just been released from prison and her best friend and confidant tells her that her boyfriend and pimp is sleeping with a cis female (born as, biological, if I get the terms wrong I apologize). She searches first for “the fish” (what they call a girl) that’s been sleeping with her man and then for him. It’s quite a journey through the neighborhood. This is a road movie even though they stay primarily in the same neighborhood.
The other story involves a cab driver who has a sexual appetite for trans hookers. Well for one in particular, Sin-Dee, who has been away. The Cab Driver is married with a child and an extended Armenian immigrant family, and of course his family has no idea that he frequents hookers let alone transgender hookers.
These two and all the other shady characters come together in a beautiful payoff that turns a dark and disturbing, but very funny, movie into an enjoyable ride with an amazing climax. My only complaint with the film is the theme. These people are lost in drug use and prostitution and violence. I spent a few years on the street and the film feels very authentic and hard to watch at times. Even though it’s very funny.
But at the heart of the film are the two friends and it’s their relationship and these two personalities that make the journey worthwhile. And I started off being annoyed with both but they grew on me after a while and by the end I was rooting for them.
Tangerine is an original and surprisingly sweet film about an ex-con trans hooker who is hunting down the drug addicted whore who was screwing her pimp boyfriend while she was in prison. It’s gritty and it’s real and it’s honest and it’s hard to look at, but believe it or not, it’s a lighthearted comedy. And it’s pretty damn funny.
Tangerine is a great movie.