Festival Review: Tangerine (2015)


The energetic and sassy tale of two transgender hookers in West Hollywood, Sean Baker’s Tangerine takes friendship and revenge to the streets.

Working Girls

by Mark Wilshin


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Shot on iPhones in West Hollywood (around Santa Monica and Highland), Sean Baker’s Tangerine is the immediate and sassy story of a friendship between two transgender prostitutes Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) put to the test after Sin-Dee, just out after 28 days in the jug, discovers her boyfriend Chester (James Ransone) has been cheating on her. It’s an explosion of “attitood” as Sin-Dee drags her sorry ass all over town to find the b*tch and make her (or them both) pay. She hasn’t quite decided yet. And taking place on Christmas Eve, Tangerine gears towards one climactic scene which sees Sin-Dee confront her man and Armenian taxi driver Razmik (Karren Karagulian) rumbled by his mother-in-law and wife, all barking over each other like hell hounds. But played almost entirely for laughs (until the final reel), Tangerine aims for something as catty and abrasive as George Cukor’s The Women, but without the scriptwriting chops behind it. Mya Taylor is particularly good as the above-it-all Alexandra, and while Baker takes obvious delight in his characters, making them strut their stuff down Hollywood Boulevard like Jackie Brown, they’re also made freakish – with a ghetto lingo, a hip-whip sashay and an inextinguishable hysteria. And while the denouement of self-conscious baldness and borrowed wigs is fascinating to watch as Sin-Dee and Alexandra change shape before our very eyes, it’s also a travesty – to revert them back to men at their most honest and human. But this is the City of Angels, baby. And with a list of Tinseltown films name-checked, from Sunset Boulevard and Pretty Woman to Mommie Dearest and Psycho (although not set in California), Tangerine is a playful, energetic and offbeat homage to all things Hollywood.

Tangerine is now showing at the London Film Festival

1 Comment

  • dougdenslowe says:

    First,great review.May I ask a question?Why do you (and others that write online)write b*tch,instead of bitch?Is it really more P.C. or acceptable?I just don’t get it.Is it more apt to confuse the very young into not seeing such a vulgar word? If you would give me a line or two,I’d appreciate it.

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