XXYX rated 

My 99 cent move the other week was Tangerine. I had actually heard a review of this and completely forgotten about it.

I looked at the plot synopsis and thought, ‘Maybe not.’ Then something caught my eye and I remembered hearing about a film that had been shot entirely on iPhones with anamorphic lens attachments. Using such a light portable camera had meant that the film making could be done in a agile, documentary style, which suited its mobile feel as it followed the characters around and also suited the rapid shot/reverse shot  editing that keeps the pace furious.

Before I go on, I should say that this movie will not be for everyone. It is fast, colorful, bold and above all else, explicit.

It is set in the subculture world of transgender street life. The protagonists largely support their drug habits through prostitution, but while that is the setting and world in which they live, it is not the theme of the film. There is full frontal nudity (both male and female) but it is not leering, it is there because it is in that world. Because the story deals with this life, there is sexual content and depictions of drug use. What I guess I am saying, is that if you have an aunt coming in from out of town, this is not the movie to suggest after a family dinner. It is no Father of The Bride.

The plot follows one afternoon in the life of its main characters, principally Sin Dee, a street worker who has just been released from 28 days in the lock up and is back on the streets and looking for her boyfriend when she discovers that he has been sleeping with a white woman. That sparks a rampage as Sin Dee moves through the streets of her town looking for this woman to confront. The camera follows where she goes, but also cuts away to spend time with other characters who live in the midst or on the outskirts of this specific environment.

The film is very colorful. Los Angeles is bathed in the tangerine hues of a warm Xmas eve as afternoon slips towards night but the colors of the sky and buildings are artificially heightened in colour, like the faces of the characters who paint their identity on.

I have to admit that the opening ten minutes nearly lost me as a lot of fast talking, foul-mouthed street walkers met eachother and exchange expletives as Sin Dee begins her hunt, but the film moves quickly and has humour and a great deal of pace as well as its own tensions. The music, like the look of the film is also very specific and helps to keep driving the narrative as the fluidity of the battle lines with these tough talking but also fragile characters are exposed.

So I am glad I stuck with it, albeit with my jaw gaping open occasionally – think the infamous puppet scene in Team America. It asks less than 90 minutes of your time and is like a mad fairground ride – with an ending surprisingly undercutting the cliched climax that I though was going to be the finale.

It may not be one that I will rush back to see in a hurry, but I was glad that I stuck with it in the end, and the striking colors and sounds stayed with me long after its running time had elapsed.


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