Produced by Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus, Jeff who lives at home), TANGERINE of Sean S. Baker arrives in France with his status as a movie transgender have gleaned, among others, the jury prize at the last festival of Deauville. In terms of ” buzz “, it is true that TANGERINE has serious points to make : actresses transgender (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor) filmed with a smartphone (three iPhones 5S with anamorphic lenses, to be precise). Beyond its attributes ” flashy “, the film is scattered in a variety of forms that reduce, in the end, the scope of experimental gesture – Baker.
The first form, influenced by the cinema extrasensoriel ofHarmony Korine, exalts the daily boiling of young prostitutes in the area of Tangerine in L. A, between West Hollywood and Santa Monica Boulevard. The “phone” Baker follows the wanderings of two young women on the eve of Christmas. Just out of prison, Sin-Dee (Rodriguez) goes in search of the “cod-blanche” which would have “slept” with her pimp of record, which also acts as a boyfriend. And Alexandra (Taylor), her best friend, who, between the two ” passes “, invites people she knows to one of his performances which took place the same evening. Stakes drama being succinct, Baker tries to transcend the daily lives of his daughters by a stage full of effects, gas station attendants, the image of the cinema of Korine. But in the director of Spring breakers (2013), this generally produces the meaning and matter.
Some visual effects, like this yellow filter straight out of the Traffic (2000) Steven Soderbergh, and sound (music, hysterical and highly touted) come to somewhat reduce the realistic dimension of the film in favour of an iconography fantasized of the city of L. A. The warm of a winter evening stirs the tensions that abound in the discretion of meetings, often as violent verbally and physically. Full-fledged character in the film, the natural scenery of the area, with its graffiti and diners that are open until the dawn, takes a playful dimension unexpected. The movements of the young girls provide a sort of mapping of the area, where each place visited offers a special atmosphere for lack of being original. By his choice of shots – wide-angle, shallow depth of field, perspectives, accents – Baker profiles the strange and fascinating neighborhood. Where an impression of continuous motion, where the time does not seem to have rights-of-way real on their life – people work at all hours of the day and of the night – finding echo in the movements random, redundant and often vain of the protagonists who, by their encounter appropriate, revisit the vitality and diversity of the neighborhood. Has the image of the scene with the young alcoholic on the sidewalk, or that of Sin-Dee on the bench, the judgment, even momentary, seems to be totally proscribed by the universe of the film.
Third character “eventful” of this story, Razmick, of Armenian origin, is a taxi driver accustomed to the neighborhood, strength be rubbing shoulders regularly with the two heroines. Hiding from his family, his sexual orientation, he lives in the discharge. Baker does not hesitate to put him in situations that are weird and often annoying. Supposed to embody traditional values (see the scene of the Christmas meal with the family), Razmick becomes the man unsympathetic, because in disagreement with itself. Unlike young women, it does not accept it, and becomes, in the eyes of the director, a sort of monster pathetic. Ambiguous character that gives rise to a dimension-judgemental suspicious and somewhat old-fashioned, unbalancing the whole second part of the film.
“Baker reveals more of the moral decadence inherent in this type of universe is violent.”
In its first part, TANGERINE manages to play on the total immersion of the viewer through scenes of (very) intimate that were always brought back to a reality that is sordid or raw (sex, violence, drugs, mockery, humiliation, etc.). Baker was then a look that is both soft (the scenes of communion in the toilet, at the bar when Alexandra pushes the song…) and comic (the scene where Razmick, disappointed not to find a male on a new prostitute, has spoken out against it). But, in choosing to establish a second point of view, that could be described beyond that of the everyday life of young girls, Baker reveals more of the moral decadence inherent in this type of universe is violent : the family home ends up being destroyed because of the stubbornness perverse (because repressed) of the father. Has the image of the end of the choral film from Paul Haggis, Crash (2005) – which was already in L. a on a full day – the protagonists come to a stop, and begin to reflect on their behavior perverse, and the consequences of their betrayal of moral : they roam the town (the girls) or in their wheelchair (Razmick), all on an uplifting music. This sudden guilt (Alexandra has also slept with Chester, a pimp, during the stay in the prison of Sin-Dee) strengthens the turn of the moralizing that takes the film.
TANGERINE and loses little by little its side trash, vulgar and careless : reflection of a state of mind in search of recognition and a will fierce to get off the beaten track. This choice to go back to issues of more traditional (a united family and a solid friendship) annihilates the enthusiasm invigorating of the first scenes. Not that they are unjustified, Baker has reason to be interested and to oppose ideologies ; the ways of seeing and experiencing the world ; of wanting to give it a consistency, a thick psychological, of its characters. But, despite all these laudable intentions, although ambitious, the form of the film becomes diluted and fades to the benefit of the intentions sanctimonious of the filmmaker.
While the main interest of this movie was, let us recall, to offer a space of expression to these young women – who claim to be actresses or singers in addition – so that they take ownership and have fun the possibilities of the medium. In the first part, clearly it is they that impose this breakneck pace and hypnotic story telling. While in the second, and more particularly in the finale, the “phone” – kind of extension of our being (by the hand) and alleged guarantor of a certain authenticity documentarisante (especially photographic), although sometimes fake (the fashion of the selfie , where one puts oneself in the scene) – replaces a camera more heavy with meaning, character teaching, and especially his propensity to become a judge-moral.
It was already the problem of the film Much Loved by Nabil Ayouch out a little earlier this year. A first part that is dense and subversive, where the immersion in the daily life of its young prostitutes moroccan spoke, in a gesture of humanistic, as much of the precarious situation of the woman that the unique character of each of these girls. And a last part, built more around their emancipation gullible (and necessarily a little overrated) that gave these young women a look of symbol at the expense of their conflict of passion. Like Much Loved, TANGERINE creates issues drama, finally more narrative than strictly visual, which reduce its strength documentarisante, and its purification narrative original. The characters are therefore trapped in the dictates (of substance, of form and content) imposed by a independent cinema to more and more standardized. And lose all integrity for the benefit of a consensus of art, which claims to be above all a narrative logic to necessarily lead to reflections of order universal : the shape of flames, leaving room for introspection pompous and shrill, where this is synonymous of freedom and pleasure, and should disappear in the face of instances psychologisantes that are the past (and its traumas) and the future (and his fantasies).
In Spring breakers, at the time of his famous speech ” adults “, Korine was taking the weapons to his little girls. And in a burst of radical violence, they found a new way to exist. Without this judgmental moralizing of the figure, the patriarchal, the filmmaker was able to métaphoriser, or even conceptualize, the distress behavioral of this generation of kids that are disconnected from reality. More comfortable with transgender people as with the other prototypes humans (the mac Chester, the conceited Razmick, the ” cod-blanche “, the traditional mother-in-law…), Baker succeeded, in a first step, to translate the energy, the casualness, or even the impertinence of his heroines, unique and beautiful in his eyes. But the image of the myth of Cinderella, the charm fades. The girls become common and caricatured through a psychological treatment strange, because in total denial with the form and the substance of the first part. Sad to return to reality for the filmmaker too. Finally much less impertinent than his or her concept connected suggested.
AGREE ? NOT AGREE ?
THE OUTPUTS OF THE 30 DECEMBER 2015
JOY, TANGERINE, I COUNT ON YOU, FULL PENSION, ARGENTINA, SHANGHAI BELLEVILLE, A DAY IN NEW YORK CITY (1949) …
• Achievement : Sean Baker
• Screenplay : Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
• Main actors : Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren, Karagulian, James Ransone
• Country of origin : United States
• Released : December 30, 2015
• Duration : 1h26min
• Distributor : ARP Selection
• Synopsis : 24 hours in the life of a funny Cinderella which runs through the city of angels in search of his rival