Directed by Sean Baker on the West Hollywood streets using nothing but his iPhone5 and some apps, Tangerine **** fizzes and clicks like the best street movies, from A Bout de Souffle to The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
Set over one Christmas Eve, it’s the story of two trans sex workers. Sin-dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) who has just got out of jail, and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) who is preparing for a big performance in a night club later. Sin-Dee flies into a vengeful rage when she hears her pimp Chester may have been cheating on her.
She clacks off to find the “bitch” (everyone’s called “bitch”) and confront Chester, taking us – practically dragging us – on a bit of an odyssey around various locals and into sex dens, buses, Donut joints and bars. Another character, a family man taxi driver with a penchant for trans sex, cruises in and out, his taxi providing entrances and exits for various other characters (and, it must be said, sex acts).
Baker has an almost romantic feel for the seedy side but keeps it breezy and often wickedly funny in a film of wigs, finger snaps and catty lines. But ultimately, it’s the director’s touching empathy for his characters that unpeels a breathing, screaming portrait of a neighbourhood and its hidden lives.