Film: Tangerine

Film by Sean Baker, 2015

Review by Pearl Chan


Tangerine, an indie film by Sean Baker, shot entirely on an iPhone 5s, mostly in a Donut Time coffee shop, premiered at Sundance on January 23rd and played recently as part of the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on October 7th.

I was most interested in the question of domesticity in this film. Razmik, the Armenian cab driver’s home is warm — there’s a dog, a daughter, a wife, and a mother-in-law. It’s Christmas Eve and the tree is up and cognac is out, but Razmik goes out looking for Sin-Dee. 

Sin-Dee is released from a 28-day stint in jail only to find that Chester, her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her. She tracks the other woman down and drags her around town looking for Chester. They reconvene at Donut Time, (where Chester conducts his business), and this is their domesticity. Against her allegations of his infidelity, Chester points to her name tattooed across his chest and says, “I was just testing the merchandise.” 

Razmik arrives looking to spend some time with Sin-Dee, but his mother-in-law is hot on his trail. Soon, the two domestic spheres crash together, and both Sin-Dee and Razmik’s wife are placed on the same level by the fundamental question of fidelity. It’s evident at this point that neither men are going to change. 

A fantastic film in its own right, but it is also proof that the Trans* community is ready to take the limelight, that the audience will watch something other than the default; the theatre was packed.