"Merry Christmas Eve, bitch!" So goes the opening line of Tangerine, a single-night screwball set on the West Hollywood strip that comes at you like a Jim Jarmusch movie on amphetamines.
This exchange is between Sin-Dee (Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Taylor), who are best friends, trans women and working girls. They’re celebrating Sin-Dee’s recent emancipation over a donut when Alexandra lets slip that Sin-Dee’s pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her with a “real fish” (meaning a non-trans woman). So sets off an apoplectic Sin-Dee out for revenge and a hilarious chain of events that ends before the night is through at the same crummy donut shop.
Director Sean Baker’s expressive camera (remarkably, this gorgeous film was shot using iPhone 5s) keeps pace with his firecracker heroines – both non-actors – following their adventure through LA’s shimmering afternoon light. The film is so rambunctious and fast-paced that you hardly notice it slip into a humanist drama just sweet enough to oust It’s a Wonderful Life from your Christmas movie rotation.