Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: May 3rd
In Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film—his twentieth—a passenger plane leaves Toledo for Mexico. Shortly after take-off a terrifying truth emerges. There’s a problem with the plane’s landing gear. It can’t land. Instead it circles above Toledo while the crew awaits further instructions. Due to various plot contrivances there are no free landing strips. The flight crew struggles to maintain an air of professionalism while the cabin crew strives to keep the severity of their situation from the already suspicious passengers in business class.
In the hands of an A-list Hollywood director this would surely make for a taut, claustrophobic high-concept thriller. However this is not Almodóvar’s intention. Though the director has, in recent years, profited from his flirtations with the thriller genre (The Skin I Live In, Live Flesh), I’m So Excited is an unabashed throwback to his earlier sex comedies (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!).
Almodóvar’s handling of the high-concept is initially refreshing. Despite the passengers’ perilous predicament, he takes an absurdist, black comedy approach to their milieu. Hijacking his high-stakes, he mines farce from tension and occasionally strikes gold. However, his decision to set most of the action on board the plane soon limits its scope.
Almodóvar views I’m So Excited as a kind of political allegory which may explain his use of stock characters. Normally renowned for the complexity of his creations, the director here fails to flesh out his passengers beyond mere archetypes. To his credit, however, they remain sympathetic even if they don’t always engage.
The film’s real stars, however, are the cabin crew played by Almodóvar regulars Javier Cámara (Joserra), Raúl Arévalo (Ulloa) and the scene stealing Carlos Areces (Fajas). Acting as a conduit between cockpit and cabin, the majority of the action spins off Joserra’s relationship with the plane’s married pilot, Alex (Antonio De La Torre).
Despite the locked in setting, I’m So Excited is as bright and vibrant as any of the director’s previous films and his trademark pastels are once again employed to full effect. The impressively designed cabin resembles a soap opera set which perfectly compliments the heightened melodrama of the plot. There are gleeful glimpses of Almodóvar’s mischievousness in the cabin crew’s treatment of the economy passengers, while the film’s resolution is artfully and evocatively rendered.
Almodóvar is a divisive figure and even amongst his converts there are those who prefer the permissive playfulness of his earlier films (High Heels, Matador) to his more mature meditations on life and love (Volver). I’m So Excited pitches its tent firmly in the former camp but despite the promise of the premise, the film never quite takes off.