It seems that, without really looking for or asking for it, a generation devoted to social media and obsessed with the projection and reflection of self has found a film that goes some way to making a statement about where we have come to.
It goes without saying that this review is not being written, and is probably not being read, in the hedonistic air of LA and yet one of the many effects that the proliferation of Instagram et al has had is to epitomise and properly realise the idea of the global village. It seems from a certain perspective that the only difference in youth culture between Hollywood and Hackney is the weather.
In terms of the stories forefronted both by the film itself and its production, an attempt to represent gender fluidity in film without the camp novelty of Priscilla and the shock-value incestuous undertones in Transamerica, a hopefully final step towards a recognition of a changing and expanding of societal norms that seems all the more important in the light of Zoolander 2's tone-deaf play for a laugh.
The fact is that this film has been doing the rounds for months; to be precise it first grabbed the industry's attention fully ten months ago, following its screening at the Sundance festival. In the light of which, there isn't a great deal left to say about its bravery and optimism in casting transgender actors to portray transvestite characters other than there is a sense here of a final assault on an outmoded taboo.
The film itself is something you should make it your business to see, if only because it is a fascinating extrapolation of a visual style that has been collectively and collaboratively defined by a generation of smartphone users. It is a safe bet, and an example of truly excellent cinematography, that a still frame from almost any point of this entire film would look completely at home on any photo-sharing platform you care to name.
Elsewhere, there is something to be said for the democratization of a medium that has always been somewhat difficult to access. The fact that personal technology, the iPhone 5s to be precise, has now evolved to the point of being able to shoot a feature length film is astonishing. The real quality of this film is in the intelligence of its creators - the talk surrounding its release has been about 'that film that was shot on a smartphone' but the more noteworthy aspect of Tangerine is that, through stylistic choices and a rigid adherence to a shooting style, it quickly becomes easy to disregard a choice that was made due to budgetary restraints rather than any conscious attempt at buzz building. There is also something delicious in the fact that the film remains unconventional enough that it almost certainly won't be adopted by the Apple corporation as a measure of their devices' potential, despite the fact it certainly should be.
In a medium where innovation and invention is driven by more and more obscene amounts of money, Tangerine is a reminder that ingenuity still has the potential to trump spending power in the creation of something that feels in some way important. According to available figures, the budget for SPECTRE the new James Bondiest Bond film ever was anywhere between two and a half and three thousand times bigger than that available to Sean Baker and his team.
I wonder which one of the two will retain its relevance in the next few years...
Tangerine is now showing at FACT. Click here to book tickets.