Los Amantes Pasajeros (I’m So Excited)
Dir: Pedro Almodóvar
Cert:15 • Spain: 90 min • El Deseo S.A. • May 3 2013
Michael Langan reviews
For someone like me who reveres Pedro Almodóvar, a new film by this internationally renowned and unabashedly queer director is always an event. Therefore, I was (ahem) ‘so excited’ (sorry) at the prospect of Almodóvar’s Spanish screwball comedy set on an aeroplane, even more so when I saw the internet teaser featuring a trio of trolley dollies lip-synching to the eponymous Pointer Sisters track. What’s not to love?
Sure enough, from the moment the primary-coloured credits rolled, I had a smile on my face. Almodóvar has described the film as ‘a light, very light, comedy’ and wanted to go back to the spirit and energy of earlier hits such as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Dark Habits after his series of darker, more ‘serious’ films such as All About My Mother, Bad Education and The Skin I Live In, though these all also include a good dose of humour. I’m So Excited is outrageously bawdy, downright sexually explicit, and genuinely funny. Almodóvar knows where the bounds of good taste are and gleefully crosses them. It’s a stylish, glossy cartoon of a film by someone at the absolute peak of his powers with nothing really to prove, so here he’s doing exactly what he wants, which is to delight and amuse. What’s more, this might actually be his gayest, campest, film ever, and that’s really saying something.
As usual, the film is peopled with faces from his regular team of actors, including the cheeky use of his two most internationally famous muses, Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz who, in small cameo roles at the beginning, provide the catalyst for the rest of the action. The plot, such as it is, is a simple one: an aeroplane on its way to Mexico circles a Spanish airport in preparation for an emergency landing due to a problem with its landing gear. Up in First Class a varied bunch of passengers and crew deal with this problem in their own inimitable ways, mostly involving alcohol, drugs and sex that lead to confession and/or transformation. There are standout performances from the Almodóvar stalwarts Javier Cámara as the pill-popping, borderline alcoholic, borderline sex addict and chief airline steward Joserra, Cecilia Roth as Norma Boss, a paranoid, no-nonsense diva and high-class Madam, and Lola Duenas as Bruna who, as well as being a bit psychic, is also still a virgin. And that’s just three of them.
Given the economic situation in the world and particularly the crisis in Spain, this feels like Pedro’s brightly wrapped gift to the people and it has some of the same anarchic energy as his early movies that also used subversive, outrageous comedy to break out of the shadow of Franco’s dictatorship. Almodóvar was at the forefront of Spanish punky new wave and he’s lost none of his ability to make you gasp and laugh at the same time. For my part, I do prefer the darker, more serious works that Almodóvar has been making for the last decade or so. Having said that, this is a bright yellow ray of much needed sunshine – go with a bunch of mates, smuggle some sangria into the cinema and enjoy.