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Film / Tangerine (2015)
aka: Tangerine

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Tangerine is a 2015 independent dramedy film directed by Sean Baker and starring breakout actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. The film was critically acclaimed primarily for its portrayal of its two transgender leads in a manner that did not delve too deeply into their identity while still affording them due respect. Historically, Tangerine is notable for providing the film for the first Academy Award campaign for an openly transgender actress supported by a film producer, and for having been shot entirely on an iPhone.

Transgender sex worker Sin-Dee Rella, who has just finished a 28-day prison sentence, meets her friend Alexandra, another trans sex worker, at a donut shop in Hollywood on Christmas Eve. Alexandra accidentally reveals that Sin-Dee's boyfriend and pimp Chester has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman. Sin-Dee storms out to search the neighborhood for Chester and the woman.

Not to be confused with the 2013 Estonian film Tangerines. Or a 1997 novel of the same name.

Tangerine provides examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Alexandra and Sin-Dee's friendship takes a serious blow, Dinah is thrown out of her motel and left alone, Razmik's relationship with his family is ruined (not that he didn't cause it himself) and Chester gets zero comeuppance, but Sin-Dee and Alexandra at least restore their friendship after the latter helps the former after a transphobic attack.
  • Dramatic Sitdown: Ashken sits down at the diner when learning about her son in law's nightly activities.
  • Easily Forgiven: After spending the entire movie searching to confront Chester, Sin-Dee forgives him after a couple of minutes even after knowing how many times he cheated on her. Though she is indeed shaken by the revelation that he also had sex with Alexandra.
  • Excrement Statement: A group of transphobes throws urine on Sin-Dee after luring her over to their van.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Happens over the course of about half of a day on Christmas Eve.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: At the end, transgender streetwalker Sin-Dee is is attacked by a transphobic potential customer who dumps a cup full of urine on her, and calls her slurs.
  • I Can Explain: Razmik tries to explain the situation at the diner to his mother-in-law but it's hopeless.
  • Karma Houdini: Chester. He gets Sin-Dee thrown in jail for his crimes, and is forgiven by proposing to her. While in jail, he cheats on her; she gets angry, but as soon as they meet, all is forgotten, even though his excuses are pathetic and largely involve completely dismissing Dinah.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Dinah lost hers when Sin-Dee dragged her from the motel room.
  • Miss Kitty: Madam Jillian, though she seems to care little for her employees; she lets Dinah be dragged out by Sin-Dee and only cares for what it will do for sales, and later turns her out on the street, having replaced her, by the time Dinah returns.
  • My Nayme Is: Sin-Dee Rella is a this for Cinderella, though it's fairly obvious that this isn't Sin-Dee's given name.
  • No-Tell Motel: Madam Jillian's brothel is in a particularly off-putting one.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Ashken is suspicious about her son-in-law's frequent disappearances, especially in the middle of a Christmas Eve dinner, and sets off to discover his whereabouts. Justified, since it turns out he's cheating on his wife/her daughter with a plethora of prostitutes; ultimately, she's less obnoxious than she is a exceptionally protective mother over her daughter.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Hot-Blooded Sin-Dee, who had no qualms dragging the screaming Dinah through LA, can only walk away wordlessly after she learns Alexandra had sex with Chester as well, a far cry from her usual behavior which shows the depth of how shaken she is by the betrayal.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The film as a whole is saturated with very vibrant color, but primarily blue/greens and orange/yellows.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Sin-Dee assumes "Mamasan" is a mail-order bride.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Most versions of the movie do not subtitle Razmik, his family, or the foreign taxi driver.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sin-Dee is the Hot-Blooded, aggressive, passionate red oni to Alexandra's calmer, patient, cautious blue oni.
  • Re Watch Bonus: Once you know that Alexandra slept with Chester, certain scenes have an entirely new meaning.
  • Running Gag: No one can seem to remember Dinah's name, just that it begins with a "D".
  • Saying Too Much: Sin-Dee would have had no real way of learning about Chester's cheating until it was brought up by Alexandra, who would have known that Sin-Dee would eventually find out that she too had sex with Chester.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Sin-Dee, though she's given more depth than this trope usually implies.
  • Silent Credits: Only ambient sounds from the laundromat can be heard during the end credits.
  • Stepford Smiler: Razmik's wife seems resigned to turn a blind eye to what her husband is up to as a marital duty.
  • Streetwalker: Sin-Dee, Alexandra, Selena, and virtually all of the women in the film, with the exception of Madam Jillian and her girls. Their lodgings in the motel brothel aren't a beacon of glamour, either.
  • The Taxi: Razmik is a taxi driver, and many scenes involve his eccentric customers. The taxi is also where he engages in affairs with prostitutes, and the erratic hours and poor pay of his job provide a fair excuse for his near perpetual absence. Later, it becomes a plot point as his mother-in-law sets out to investigate him.
  • Trans Chaser: Razmik is exclusively attracted to transgender women, to the point where he insists a cisgender prostitute he has hired leave and berates her for working his usual block.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Sin-Dee spends most of the movie hunting down her boyfriend Chester after he cheated on her with a cis girl, but as soon as she reunites with him he is Easily Forgiven and everything's back to normal. However, it's revealed that Alexandra also slept with Chester, and both relationships seem over, though the film ends with a bit of a (gender-flipped) Bros Before Hoes scenario as Alexandra gingerly starts repairing her relationship with Sin-Dee.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sin-Dee and Alexandra. They insult each other, give each other crap, and even occasionally sleep with each other's boyfriends, but at the end of the day, they have each other - and in fact they may be the only person to have the other's back.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: One of Razmik's passengers throws up multiple times in and around his taxi.
  • Wham Line: At the end, when Sin-Dee confronts Chester.
    Chester: What didn't (Alexandra) tell you? She didn't tell you that me and her were knocking it three weeks ago! You didn't want to f***ing tell her that part!
  • Woman Scorned: Sin-Dee. Upon learning her boyfriend has cheated on her, she scours Los Angeles, identifies the mistress, physically drags her back across the city, finds the boyfriend, and then causes a scene in the middle of a donut shop. And that's the undramatic version.

Alternative Title(s): Tangerine