Directed, written, edited and director of cinematography, Sean Baker and his multi talented creative persona created this explosion of colour, dynamic and raw, exploring a comedic take on characters that we could say fall into the ‘fringes’ of society,
examining the vulnerability to the characters through the film.
Examining the lives of Sin-Dee Rella, a transgender woman and sex worker who has just been released from jail and her friend Alexandra, we explore t
heir day as Sin-Dee finds out her pimp boyfriend is cheating on her with a cisgender woman and her ‘quest’ to find both the woman and confront her boyfriend. Sub plots appear within the film; we see Alexandra as a struggling trans woman trying to attract people to come to her show by handing out flyers, and an Armenian taxi driver Razmik who is in a heterosexual marriage, but struggles with an attraction to Alexandra as a trans woman.
Th film, although predominantly sitting in the genre of comedy, dips into sub genres of a ‘buddy movie’ which chronicles the relationship and adventures of friends but also a ‘road movie’ which shows a sense of narrative motion as the characters travel either physically, or within a ‘journey of discovery’. (Also revenge comedy. Lots of revenge).
Shot on 3 iPhone 5s’ with an anamorphic lens adaptor to give the lens a wider scope, the iPhones were placed on steadicam rigs and a lot of the footage shot ‘on the go’. For example, scenes were shot from he back of a moving motor scooter, or inside the cab.
The footage immerses the viewers by creating a gritty and ‘real’ sense of space, showing that shooting a movie on an iPhone can be done and not look amateurish.
The filmic style falls into a neorealist sense, focusing a lot on the Cinema verite aspect, sticking to an observational look at these lives, creating a raw and visceral sense, sticking to its roots by avoiding ‘artificiality and artistic effects’, which really are scarce within the film, if you discount the editing of the footage.
The themes follow a strong ‘desire for justice and validation’, but also explores the realms of friendship and relationships within a subculture of society that perhaps isnt represented within our society that often. The confidence of the two main actresses only grows over the course fo the film, the first couple of scenes jarring, as the acting is perhaps not as strong as it progresses to be. Costume design stays the same throughout as it is set over one day, but the design surrounding the characters seems natural, the dressing of the various characters seeming to fit within the reality of the movie.
I found the movie a glimpse into a life that was perhaps new to me. I consider myself to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, and find myself accepting to any human, but the reality of the film struck a chord with me as there’s ‘being an ally’ within the comfort of my privileged, white lifestyle and actually seeing the reality, as only at the end of the film is the jovial and comedic sense shattered as transphobic slurs and derogatory language used. I could feel the tension in the room heighten, as the uncomfortable nature was used in this scene to display the harsh and devastating reality that is the reality for some.
But the mix of comedy and sense of reality was equally balanced, the main theme centering around a friendship, and the journey (both mentally and physically) that the two main characters in the film embark upon. I think in this sense, the film provides a real sense of an observation between two honest friends, for this reason, the film brings a feeling of hope, honesty and love, and that, is sometimes all you need to make a movie (okay, I know, I know, and a crew and a camera and all that too).