Tangerine | Film review - Trans tale buzzes with life, energy and salty wit

Tangerine Mya Taylor Kitana Kiki Rodriguez.jpg
(Image credit: Augusta Quirk)
(Image credit: Augusta Quirk)

Buzzing with life, energy and salty wit, this tale of two transsexual prostitutes rattling around Los Angeles on Christmas Eve is an unexpectedly life-affirming low-budget gem.

In Tangerine, Sin-Dee Rella (first-time actor Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is on the warpath, hunting for the female hooker who has apparently been sleeping with her pimp and lover, while best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) tries to drum up interest in her singing debut at a local bar and Armenian cab driver Razmik (Karren Karagulian), a regular client, seeks relief from family life.

Director Sean Baker drags us through some of LA’s seamier quarters in their wake, but his protagonists’ vitality stops the film from simply becoming a voyeuristic tour. Remarkably, although the movie was shot on the sly on iPhone 5s, its lavish widescreen frame matches the heroines for vibrant, eye-popping colour.

Certificate 15. Runtime 84 mins. Director Sean Baker

Tangerine is available on DVD & VOD from Metrodome.


Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.