IN THEATERS (SF) – “Tangerine”

indexTangerine (2015; Dir.: Sean Baker)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

A relatively minor all-nighter comedy elevated to the status of a major breakthrough by casting transgender performers in the roles of transgender prostitutes, and by refraining from ever psychoanalyzing or judging them (harsh judgment is rightly reserved for the pimps and johns). Just out of rehab, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) learns on Christmas Eve from her friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) that her pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her with a blonde “fish.”  While an enraged Sin-Dee tears like a hurricane through the seediest back alleys and donut shops of Santa Monica Blvd. in an attempt to find him, an Armenian cab driver and frequent customer leaves his family to track Sin-Dee down. Shooting on an iPhone, co-writer/director Sean Baker (Starlet) gives the film a kinetic immediacy and sustains a high level of energy throughout, although he frequently mistakes chaos for humor (too many scenes devolve into nonsensical screeching matches, like a Dreamgirls with better wigs). Still, any director who can merge compassion, intensity, and no-holds-barred attitude this adroitly is a filmmaker with major potential.