Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2015. Duplass Brothers Productions, Through Films. Screenplay by Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch. Cinematography by Sean Baker, Radium Cheung. Produced by Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou. Costume Design by Shih-Ching Tsou. Film Editing by Sean Baker. Gotham Awards 2015. Independent Spirit Awards 2015.
Sin-Dee has just gotten out of the clink and is ready to head back to the glamorous life of working the streets of West Hollywood. Her best friend Alexandra tells her that her boyfriend and pimp has been catting around on her, which considering that she took a fall for him by going to jail is really not cool. Sin-Dee goes in search of her wayward man, Alexandra kills time before a performance that night, and a married cab driver with a penchant for giving head to trans hookers in his car wanders the neighbourhood looking for his favourite girl Sin-Dee. The spontaneity of the action is the best thing about this spritely comedy that was impressively filmed entirely on iPhones (with a professional sound crew), and while the narrative is nothing to brag about, the energy in the editing and cinematography are exceptionally well achieved. Scenes that could have been an indulgent mess of improvisation are kept in line by Sean Baker’s smart direction, taking the showmanship of his characters and using it to reveal both their ability to get through a hard day in a harsh world while also displaying their endearing vulnerabilities. Scenes with the cab driver’s family are somewhat extraneous, but they do contribute to a very hilarious climax involving the entire cast in the madness of a French bedroom farce set in a crummy donut shop in a bad L.A. neighbourhood. It seems like the sort of thing that requires the kind of forgiveness you give to a Midnight Madness cult film, but it’s surprisingly clever and the acting is terrific.