I’m So Excited! By Pedro Almodovar
Pedro Almodovar’s latest film is a flight into fantasy, peopled by a wild assortment of characters such as camp air stewards, newlyweds, crooked bankers fleeing from the police, a Mexican hitman and a dominatrix. So far, so normal in the Almodovar universe.
As we enter the airport world, we see two baggage handlers who are none other than Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. These cameo roles are very tongue in cheek – two of Spain’s biggest stars – and most expensive – reduced to bit parts who only appear for a few seconds very early in the film, never to be seen again.
The film borrows from the disaster movie genre, and indeed the lives of those on board Peninsula Flight 2549 are in danger, as the plane circles high up above in the clouds, unable to land because of a technical failure.
There are some lovely visual moments. The camera focuses on an airplane vent and zooms in to reveal an abstract, geometric pattern. This is classic Almodovar, a deft cinematic touch where an inanimate object transforms into a thing of beauty, making us look at everyday objects in a new way.
The three air stewards (Javier Camara, Carlos Areces and Raul Arevalo), play their parts with relish. It’s not an easy role as the stereotypical camp flight attendant has been done to death on TV and film. However, this trio delight in their duties of pointing out the exits in case of emergency with expressions of contempt and archness.
And of course, all male flight attendants are frustrated cabaret artistes, who just can’t wait to put on a show. Despite a distinct lack of encouragement from the passengers, the three break into a routine of I’m So Excited! which is one of the high points of the movie. They attack the song with such verve, gusto and total conviction that it’s almost as if they are indeed the Pointers Sister, circa 1982, reincarnated.
High up in the skies, it’s all such a soap opera. The chief steward is having an unhappy love affair with the bisexual pilot, and they can’t resist sniping at each other in the cockpit. In fact, everyone’s having a bit of a meltdown, from the financial embezzler to an ageing Don Juan who is trying to say goodbye to his girlfriend who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
The lyrics of I’m So Excited! give us a clue about the events soon to unfold: “I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.”
Our intrepid flight attendants, in an attempt to stave off panic among the passengers, have rustled up Valencian Water (champagne, vodka and orange juice), washed down with mescaline. Where does the drug come from? you might ask. From out of the rectum of the groom who was saving it for his honeymoon in Mexico. To some, this might be preposterous as a story line, but as everything is so crazy, you’re swept along with the lunacy.
Up in the skies, society’s morals don’t matter and soon, everyone’s inhibitions are out via the emergency exit. The genre of the movie changes to 1970s porn, with a lot of crotch shots, heaving breasts and sexually frustrated virgins looking longingly at over-large torches. An orgiastic few minutes ensue, which releases the tensions that everyone’s been feeling.
Almodovar’s script zips along with some lovely one-liners and nicely crafted characters. It’s a frivolous flight into fantasy, and the world would be a much funnier place if all flights were like this.
I’m So Excited is on general release in the UK from 3 May
Words: Fiona Keating
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