I’M SO EXCITED! Starring: Javier Camara, Antonio de la Torre, Raul Arevalo, Hugo Silva, Carlos Areces, Cecilia Roth, and Lola Duenas. Directed by Pedro Almodovar. Rated MA15+ Restricted. (Strong sexual references). 90 min.
This sub-titled Spanish comedy film is set almost entirely on an commercial airplane, Peninsula Airlines flight 2549, flying from Madrid to Mexico City. The plane was not checked when it left and has a problem with its landing gear.
The pilots of the plane, Benito (Hugo Silva) and Alex (Antonio de la Torre), are bisexual. The Stewards, Ulloa (Raul Arevalo), Fajas (Carlos Areces) and Joserra (Javier Camara) are homosexual, and the plane is loaded with bizarre characters that Almodovar puts on display. Two of the stewards have had sex with the pilots, the pilots have had sex with each other, and the plane circles in the air under the threat of an emergency landing.
Pedro Almodovar is one of the most talented Directors in Europe and he has been responsible for some very fine movies such as “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (1988), “Talk to Her”(2002), and “The Skin I live In” (2011). He brings a sure hand to his direction and directs with style, but focuses mainly on the eccentricities of his characters. He typically uses sexuality for comic and dramatic appeal and his characters show human foibles that often reveal interesting insights into human weaknesses and strengths. In this film, however, he plays fast and loose with human sexuality and is more concerned with stereotypes and preconceptions about it than any real development of human character.
The movie is essentially a farce. Passengers take drugs on board, have sex with each other, confess candidly when their life is threatened by disaster, and the crew engages in musical routines on board as the fate of the plane hangs in the balance. Any drama is taken over by Almovodar, who seems content to provide campy, frothy entertainment for appeal, and in the most cheeky and irreverent way that he can.
The film is full of cameo roles, and Almovdovar has no hesitation in injecting his own ideas into the plot. The Economy Class passengers and the Stewardesses have passed out, and have been put to sleep with a drug so that they won’t be stressed. The only people who are awake are the passengers in Business Class, the three gay stewards, and the two bisexual pilots. Passengers who are awake include a fraudulent banker, a sexually frustrated clairvoyant (Lola Duenas) who creates her own action with a drugged male passenger back in Economy Class, an actor with a suicidal girlfriend, a security agent who is actually a “hit man”, and a dominatrix (Cecilia Roth), working under the name of “Miss Take”, who boasts she has serviced “the 600 most important people in the country...and who is connected with “the Opus Dei and the Legionnaires”. Before long everyone is stoned and having sex with everyone else, and they “do everything that is forbidden to do on a plane”. While the plane is circling the three Stewards dance mincingly to the Cole Porter song, “I’m So Excited”, which was a Pointer Sisters hit in 1982, and which gives the film its title.
Almodovar implies that sex is a pleasure that comes mainly from the control of others. The film is profoundly pleasure-seeking, and has no problem at all in presenting the case for advocating unlimited access to alcohol, sex and drugs. It argues obviously that homosexuality is central to modern culture, and the film suggests that pleasure and power are bound inextricably together. There are certain moments in the movie which show pathos and human understanding, such as some of the sequences involving deceived partners, but they are few and far between. This is not a sharply observant movie in the way that many of Almovodar’s films have been, and it is more cynical than most of his films. It swamps itself in excess, and stays boastfully outside human experience rather than being absorbed dramatically inside it.
Almodovar is a director used to extracting comedy out of clichés and this film shows that skill very well. However, this is a movie that is against taste on almost every count. One gets glimpses of the genuine talent that lies in its making, but the movie takes you manipulatively and unapologetically on the Director’s personal fantasy ride.
Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Out September 19th 2013.