I'M SO EXCITED!
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Screenwriter: Pedro Almodóvor
Antonio de la Torre
Runtime: 89 mins.
Australian release date: 19 September 2013
In 1988, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown introduced Australian audiences to Pedro Almodóvar’s wonderful, crazy world of colour and kitsch. A quarter of a century later his new film, I’m So Excited! is, unfortunately, a mediocre throwback to the ‘80s. It still has his signature ‘hi-gloss’ look, ably captured by veteran José Luis Alcaine’s fabulous cinematography full of riotous colour, plus a pretty zippy soundtrack by long-term collaborator Alberto Iglesias, but overall the film lacks any real originality and, as a result, is a big disappointment.
The opening scene features cameo performances by Almodovar’s old mates Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. Their lame flirting causes a mechanical problem with the aircraft they are servicing before we head off into the skies on Peninsula flight 2549, en route to Mexico. Not long into the flight, the captain, Alex (Antonio de la Torre) and his co-pilot Benito (Hugo Silva) realise that there are problems with the landing gear. The crew, a trio of very camp stewards, Joserra (Javier Cámara), Fajas (Carlos Areces) and Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo), set out to make the journey as comfortable as possible. They feed the economy passengers a cocktail of knockout pills then try to distract the first class passengers as best they can, for this is, after all, an Almodóvar situation, which is to say one that is a long way from ‘normal!’
Almodóvar’s characters are a weird mob and their personalities feed the emotional chaos. There was a moment when I wondered if it may be doing them all a favour if the plane indeed crashed and put them all out of their misery. When you mix a pessimistic psychic who is upset because she may die a virgin, a dominatrix caught up in a blackmail ring, an actor who has just walked out on his suicidal girlfriend, a banker who is up for fraud and a mobster, then you know things are not going to run smoothly! And that’s only the passengers… the crew are just as sex-crazed and drug-addled. We learn that relationships between the flight attendants are highly complicated and this makes for a number of bizarre scenes that veer between moments of high camp, outrageous dialogue and full-on melodrama. These are a lot of fun at times but somehow seem a bit dated too; even the lip-synching camp rendition of the Pointer Sisters' I’m So Excited is a tad embarrassing, a bit ‘try too hard.’
If I’m So Excited! is your first Almodóvar experience you may love it, however, those of you already familiar with the director’s work will find this a bit of a yawn. I suggest your time would be better spent digging out Almodóvar’s earlier works from your local DVD shop and going over them again. You’ll get a lot more excited!