War in Georgia, Apkhazeti region in 1990. An Estonian man Ivo has stayed behind to harvest his crops of tangerines. In a bloody conflict at his door, a wounded man is left behind, and Ivo is forced to take him in.
After years of domestic introspection and reflecting on history a number of German films such as "Fata Morgana" (2007) or "Dr. Alemán" (2008) recently have ventured out into the big, wide world.
"Tangerine" is a very fine example of this trend as it provides a real insight into the almost mythical city of Tanger. By their acquaintance with Amira, Pia and Tom get to know contemporary Morocco far better than any ordinary tourist from Western Europe could ever hope for and I'd like to think that Pia, having experienced the lure of the city, will return there time and again. As Jean Genet famously wrote: "Before you travel to Tanger withdraw all your savings and say goodbye to your friends, because the number of people who came here for a short vacation but then stayed for years is alarmingly high." The film's structure is pretty open, almost impressionistic, and leaves room for the camera to just observe the sights and sounds of the city thus finding beautiful images such as the candle on the turtle. It's only a pity that the film's narratively strong beginning comes at the expense of a rather weak ending.
The characters are likable but flawed. Yet both Amira's lying and Pia's betrayal are perfectly understandable in their situation (as is Tom's indecisiveness who could decide between two such wonderful women especially when you're rather preoccupied with finding those elusive Jilala and Jajouka musicians ;-).
I've liked Nora von Waldstätten and Alexander Scheer ever since their debuts in "Jargo" resp. "American Showdown"/"Sonnenallee" but here they are just great and now I officially declare them two of the coolest and most interesting German actors working today (she: ice-cool but spirited, he: flamboyant-cool but funny). With her obvious language skills and her looks I even think it's only a matter of time before Nora von Waldstätten becomes an international star.
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