(directed by Sean Baker, 2015)
***+ (out of 5)
> I sought this small film out because it was one of the highest rated Critical Consensus films of the year… or was it?
. I appear to have mistaken a Georgian film called TANGERINES, for this thoroughly American portrait of transgendered Hollywood street life. At first, I didn’t quite get what (I thought) the critics liked so much about it, but in the hours after seeing it my esteem for TANGERINE (singular) grew. Certainly, there was an amateurish quality to it- production values seemed to reflect the obviously low budget. Some of the acting seemed unpolished and a tad cardboard, but over time it became apparent that these people were, in essence, playing themselves, in humane and nuanced if unpolished performances.
. The two main protagonists were transgendered locals reenacting the gritty reality of their daily lives. It certainly was impressive to hear that director Sean S. Baker shot the entire thing on iphones (!!!) because there wasn’t enough money in the coffers to rent camera equipment and still pay the actors, which, to his credit, he felt important. The striking result bathed the whole thing in a orange-yellow tint, hence the title- referring to the tangerine color palate the technique produced.
. This is a warm, humanistic film despite the unrestrained repetition of the word “bitch”, among more casually graphic endearments. This street-level view of one of America’s myriad thriving sub-cultures is a pretty unique critter, worthy of your attention.
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