After the dramatic chills of The Skin I Live In, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar returns to the world of high camp and outrageous comedy in I’m So Excited.
Set aboard a Spanish airliner, I’m So Excited follows the flamboyant crew of the Peninsula Flight 2549 as they try and maintain control of the business class passengers, amidst news that the plane has developed a dangerous technical fault.
I’m So Excited retains the visual flourishes and melodramatic comedy one would expect from an Almodóvar feature. The narrative is chock full of rich, over-the-top humour that will have lovers of camp and kitsch comedy in their elements. This is channelled through a diverse palette of instantly loveable characters, such as the flight’s three stewards: Joserra (Javier Cámara), Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo), and Fajas (Carlos Areces). Whether through Fajas’s continuous prayers to his miniature Virgin Mary or Ulloa and Joserra’s drug-infused cocktails – the three actors bring an undeniable comic skill and charm to the film. These camp antics reach their peak in a stand-out scene which sees the stewards attempt to amuse the passengers by offering to perform a selection of musical numbers, resulting in an impromptu version of The Pointer Sisters’ I’m So Excited – which is likely to bring a smile to the face of all audience members.
It is these moments of unabashed camp that make I’m So Excited so much fun. Almodóvar’s homages to the Spanish soap opera and melodrama are also particularly evident, most explicitly in the wonderfully overdramatic character of Norma Boss (Cecilia Roth) – a feisty actress turned dominatrix with connections to Spain’s most powerful men. Roth brings an Alexis Colby-esque glamour to the character, commanding the screen with a wonderful sense of comic ability and undeniable dramatic prowess. Hugo Silva shines as the plane’s handsome co-pilot questioning his heterosexuality, whilst Lola Dueñas heightens the camp tone as a psychic who predicts a technical fault in the plane.
The feature is at its best as a light watch, and despite Almodóvar’s best efforts at launching a critique on Spanish social and political issues – the more serious moments fail to connect. These may perhaps have more resonance to a Spanish audience, than a British one. The camp tone of the activities in the air is abruptly cut short on several occasions, when Almodóvar explores the back-story of passenger, Ricardo Galán (Guillermo Toledo) and the two women he loves back in Spain. The bleak, poe-faced tone of these scenes have an draining effect- simply feeling overbaked and a putting damper on the previous light-hearted fun.
However, these scenes set on the Spanish mainland allow Almodóvar and regular cinematographer, José Luis Alcaine, to explore the stunning, sun-soaked landscape of urban Spain. The pair also have the power to make even the setting of a passenger aeroplane look vivid and exciting – I’m So Excited is a real visual feast, chock with loud colours and warm imagery – resulting in a frothy and inherently embracing watch.
Whilst I’m So Excited may not be the pinnacle of Almodóvar’s career, it is undeniable fun serving as a visually stunning and magnificently performed piece of camp escapism.
Stars: Javier Cámara, Hugo Silva , Cecillia Roth,Pepa Charro, Lola Dueñas
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Release: 3rd of May 2013
Certificate: 15 (UK)