Mirror Image: Tangerine (2015)

Eve Ducker looks back at the groundbreaking iPhone filmed indie flick.

Eve Ducker
13th March 2020
Spend a Christmas Eve with a trans-gender prostitute searching for her cheating pimp. In what is probably one of the most inclusive Christmas films of all time, Tangerine takes you on a journey through L.A and using the vibrant, saturated colours to paint a picture of lives less documented.

This film is important. It’s precious but unbreakable. This is not only for the punchy story or powerful characters but because of the spotlight it shines of the imperfect lives of our protagonists Sin-dee (Kitana Kiki Rodrigeuz) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor), both trans-gender prostitutes working on the streets of L.A.

Sin-dee has just got out of prison and with the help of her reluctant best friend Alexandra spends Christmas Eve hunting down the man who cheated on her. Shot entirely on modified iPhones this film was ground-breaking in many respects, not only for the inclusion of trans-artists but also for adding to a style of film that rarely gets the screen time it deserves.

The insight that this film gives is invaluable as the sensitivity of some hard-faced characters are revealed. This builds sympathy and a genuine feeling of understanding for characters which most of us would otherwise be unable to relate to. The humour disarms us as an audience to tackle transphobia making this film even more poignant.

The images are bright and highly modified; attacking our senses with a bold soundtrack to accompany the vivacious colours. This is best shown when Sin-dee charges through the streets of Hollywood and every run-down shop front pops; truly a visual spectacle.

All of this however doesn’t scratch the surface on the under-representation of trans actors/actresses in Hollywood, but maybe this film is a start. It mustn’t be forgotten that I am writing this 5 years on from the production of this film and that this still is a desperately important issue. It is however exciting to think that 5 years ago there were directors such as Sean Baker (The Florida Project) making films like this to begin to face up to the issues with diversity in cinema. Long may the fight continue.

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