“Tangerine” Introduces Viewers to Refreshingly New Screen Characters

imageFamously shot on three iPhone 5s smartphones and the toast of Sundance, Sean Baker’s new indie comedy/drama Tangerine (B) is an exotic fruit indeed. The movie showcases two transgender actresses, Kiki Kitana Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, who magnificently play sassy prostitutes (as one character says “a trainwreck and a hot mess”) involved in antics to exact revenge on the woman who has been sleeping with their pimp while one of our heroines was incarcerated. The film is a bit challenged in tone, varying like a whirling dervish from comic misadventures to more somber moments. The quality of the filming is gorgeous, with a near-Technicolor glow that makes a seedy Los Angeles of doughnut shop and alleyway encounters come to vivid life. Dare I say it all feels a bit like a gender-bending Clerks! One character says, “L.A. is a beautifully wrapped lie,” and by the end, the city itself becomes quite a character.