starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karen Karagulian, James Ransone
written by Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch
directed by Sean Baker
by Walter Chaw Tangerine acts like, sometimes even looks like, a Fassbinder film. It's a relational melodrama, a social allegory, an outsider text presented with seriousness and formalism that distinguishes itself with its energy and a willingness to address taboo unadorned. It's not a masterpiece, but it is a rarity: one of those glimpses into another culture obsessed with ordinariness, mendacity, and universality. Tangerine has the urgency of another generation's independent cinema. It doesn't play like a calling card, although there are moments, most of them coming in the final third of the film, arranged with a careful, painterly intentionality. The picture plays for all its narrative looseness (and then conveniences) like an opinion urgently held, urgently shared, but repeated so often that sometimes details are neglected in the retelling. It reminded me a lot of Nir Bergman's little-seen gem Broken Wings, which takes place in a very particular time and place (Haifa during the height of suicide bombings) yet is really just about a family. Broken Wings is not a masterpiece and neither is Tangerine, but both are important in the same way.