Sunday, 6 December 2015

Tangerine (2015)

Tangerine (film) POSTER.jpg
No Mandarins or Satsumas included

Director: Sean Baker
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, James Ransone, Mickey O'Hagan, Karren Karagulian

From early on, it's clear that Sean Baker has directed one of the year's most gorgeous films. The vibrant colours and cinematography remain one heck of a treat for the eyes, which makes it all the more shocking it was all shot on an iPhone 5s, as opposed to a professional movie camera. While the film's received a great deal of attention due to that aspect, by no means should it be where the acclaim ends.

After being locked up in prison for 28 days, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is released on Christmas Eve, looking to split a donut with her best friend and fellow working girl Alexandria (Mya Taylor). Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn't been faithful, Sin-Dee ventures on a mission to find her cheating boyfriend, and the other woman.

It can always be a gamble when directors choose to cast somebody with no prior acting experience, but it's clearly paid off in spades. Put simply, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez is just a damn treasure. An absolute standout, she perfectly conveys the pent up rage over the news of her boyfriends infidelity, while also giving the audience somebody to root for. Mya Taylor ishould not be counted out, as she's also fantastic as the person who tries going about her business, rounding up friends to see her sing at a bar, while getting caught up in her friends drama. It's also worth a mention how the two sharing a great deal of chemistry whenever on-screen together, delivering one of the years best friendships.

What time is it?

If there were any niggles, it'd be on the subplot involving Razmik (Karren Karagulian). There's nothing bad about his story, it's intriguing to watch the Armenian taxi driver have discreet encounters with a transexual woman, while keeping up appearances as an upright husband. But it isn't as strong when compared to Sin-Dee and Alexandra's engaging stories.

Baker manages to fill the picture with an infectious energy, as it remains a lively experience that's brimming with such effervescence. This is helped by moments which are genuinely laugh out loud, as well as naturalistic dialogue and a soundtrack to die for. But the biggest surprise lies in the creeping empathy, which hits with full force by the eventual climax. Without realising, Sean Baker has you feeling for many of the disparate characters we've followed throughout. The ending is especially beautiful and heartwarming, highlighting the wonderful friendship which has been at the centre of this film throughout.

Tangerine is more than a successful example of how far technology has come. It's a bittersweet affair in a gorgeously shot landscape, teeming with genuine moments of humour and an effective dose of emotional connection. Come for the use of iPhone 5s, stay for the wonderful film.

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