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Film Review: 'I'm So Excited'

★★★☆☆
To say that Pedro Almodóvar's Pointer Sisters-referencing I'm So Excited (Los amantes pasajeros, 2013) is one of the flamboyant Spanish auteur's more inconsequential efforts would perhaps be doing it a disservice; it is, after all, as interested in sexual politics and forms of control and restraint as any of his previous films. The key distinction to make, then, is that this is arguably his first all-out comedy, forgoing heartrending melodrama in favour of sharp one-liners and trusted sight gags. As expected, Almodóvar proves himself a deft comic director, though this latest enjoyable offering does struggle to reach the dizzying heights of his finest work.

An Airplane! for post-recession Spain, I'm So Excited takes place almost entirely aboard an ill-fated commercial flight en route to Mexico City. With the plane's landing gear damaged before take off - in a sequence which features cameos from Almodóvar regulars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz - the aircraft's captain (Antonio de la Torre) and camp-as-Christmas flight attendants (Javier Camara, Raul Arevalo, Carlos Areces) quickly become aware that the lives of every single passenger and crew member are at risk. Drugging those in Economy, the attendants move frantically between the cockpit and those in Business Class, as a myriad of secrets, lies and lustful desires bubble to the surface.

As with most disaster movies worth their salt (a genre which I'm So Excited undoubtedly plays upon to great effect), a cross-section of society is taken and then ensnared together until differences of class, gender and race are cathartically resolved. Each of Almodóvar's broadly-painted characters has something to gain and/or something to lose aboard this doomed vessel, from Cecilia Roth's paranoid dominatrix Norma Boss all the way down to Lola Dueñas' virginal mystic, Bruna. Such subplot dalliances are certainly entertaining, though quite why Almodóvar felt the need to expand upon one overlong (and honestly dull) story by returning back to terra firma is anyone's guess, and one of several missteps.

Though undeniably bitty, I'm So Excited has already received substantial (and unfair) criticism from those expecting a factory line Almodóvar melodrama - preferably, one assumes, set against the postcard backdrop of either Barcelona or Madrid. Whilst it certainly doesn't carry the same artistic weight and credibility of an All About My Mother, Talk to Her or The Skin I Live In, there's still enough bravado camerawork (the much-vaunted I'm So Excited musical sequence, alone, is terrific), soapy intrigue and Spanish piquancy to draw you in, before spitting you out in globule of foam, mescaline and who knows what else.

Daniel Green

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