Flick Reviews: ‘Tangerine’ (2015)

In this day and age, a little simplicity could be used to go against the loud but meaningless complexities of some films. Sean Baker’s bold vision of the Los Angeles pimping lifestyle perfectly highlights that with his own brand of energy that results into a riot of a film that feels fresher than almost anything you’ve ever seen before.


Tangerine walks us through the streets of Los Angeles for a wild and thoroughly amusing romp that takes us through the life of pimping and gay prostitution over the course of one day. A lot of happenings occur, mostly related to the terms “insane” and “downright dirty”,  and the film never ever holds back in bringing them up and holding them up close for us to see and get shocked at. The best thing that comes alongside the visually and verbally filthy yet laugh-inducing antics would definitely be the volumes of keenness it uses in detailing the profundity just sitting right underneath the crazy scenarios the people of the story get into. There are lessons to be learned, and Tangerine presents that in its own way that blends vulgarity with enthusiasm, and utter honesty that can be seen in the bold depiction of its characters and how they deal with the hell that life gives to them.


Sean Baker gleefully depicts the sensibilities of this then-socially unaccepted community with the massive use of untamed humor merged in various situations, and natural drama that draws strength from the irresistible charisma of the characters that we see and the wonderful actors that play them. The introduction to the film is great and shows the two protagonists having a conversation naturally. That right there is just purely realistic and opens the film immediately on a high note. It shows that realism is essential to it, and all the more gives humanity to them. The reality of the depiction can easily be seen and it goes like as if you’re watching the day of a real-life prostitute in real-time and feel the stress that he goes through as he walks the streets in loneliness and depression.


The real-life locations he walks through almost act as breathing walkways that comfort the protagonist and allow him to contemplate deeply. The long-take walking scenes are perfect as they are, and brings out the effectiveness of the drama as it isolates us from the world and engages us with the Sin-Dee. Tangerine pushes through a scorned love that is never really seen but nonetheless, the heartache and pain is felt from its protagonist whose anger and sadness is shown right from the start and deeply but simply explores the friendship of two gay friends to go along with it which makes for a heartwarming but outrageous look at their life as well as sending a strong message about getting up and getting by after having a hell of a day.


The notion of making it look like it was shot cheap pays off and fits perfectly well because of the plot’s execution. It contradicts the idea of it looking like it was made for a dollar, because if anything it wasn’t a poorly made movie with bad acting and an atrocious plot unlike the camera work suggests it to be. Another noticeable element that is impossible to overlook would be its smart use of over-saturated colors. The colors affixes warmth to this gritty story and wonderfully shows the colorful lifestyle of our main characters; it oppositions the dismal trials that they go through and adds emphasis to their moral compass.  In spite of a short run time, Tangerine shows us that there is a whole lot of reasons to love it without hesitations to do so.


One would be the mere fact of that it executes an idea that’s been done a thousand times before in an unusual and admirable fashion that keeps it refreshing, and the other being the perfect selection of actors to play the relatable characters that forms a connection with the viewers. All of those may be hard to believe and may even baffle some, but that is why it’s waiting for you to see it for yourself and get stunned by its undeniably strong filmmaking despite the seemingly laughable low-budget look that it so proudly glares to gain attention. With everything that I’ve seen, I can safely say that it is indeed worth your time, and it guarantees that you’ll be singing high praises once it all ends. Director Sean Baker just spent an hour and 28 minutes to tell a priceless movie with low expense, has casted new but promising actors, and has just fleshed out a narrative effortlessly.


Utilizing a simple amateurish visual style that makes it so beautiful and unique, it becomes a film that gains some of its power from its rather plain camera work that resembles a simplicity that is covered in depth and frankness; grounding it in a reality that is just unbelievable considering the crazy events that occur yet it’s just amazing how the film depicts the characters who deal with it and simply getting over it. To conclude prior statements without thinking twice, Tangerine shines bright with its utterly kinetic LGBT stars who seem to never want to stop from keeping us impressed with their top-tier performances. It becomes a simple yet surprisingly moving fresh picture that is daring and high-spirited as it is funny in a simple manner with its sparkling zest.

4.5/5 stars


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