Film review: I’m So Excited (15)

AFTER a series of noirish, moodier films, I’m So Excited will be popular among fans of ­Pedro Almodóvar’s brightly coloured farces seeking rampant camp, drug-taking, inappropriate sex and lip-synched routines to a Pointer Sisters’ song.

Pedro Almodovar on the set of his latest film 'I'm So Excited'. Picture: Complimentary

I’m So Excited (15)

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

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Running time: 90 minutes

* * * *

The take-off point is Peninsula Airlines, where a ground staffer (Antonio Banderas) is distracted by his baggage wrangling wife (Penelope Cruz) and accidentally sabotages the landing gear of a plane bound to Mexico. Economy class are given knockout drops to calm their nerves as the plane circles Toldeo, but in first class, the passengers and crew are determined to recreate the airport disaster movies of the 1970s by airing a range of ­secrets and personal issues. Twenty-five years ago, Carmen Maura whipped up a drug-laced batch of gazpacho in Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. Here it’s a lethal cocktail called a Valencia which loosens up the cast with a mescaline garnish.

A trio of gay air stewards compare love lives and affairs that are requited and unrequited, whilst slinging back the tequila. In the posh seats, a middle-aged actress (All About My Mother’s Cecilia Roth) shares celebrity gossip, an ­unfaithful actor (Guillermo ­Toledo) gets the chance to reconcile with an old girlfriend, a honeymoon couple (Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Laya Martí) consider starting up their conjugal rights on the plane, and a psychic (Lola Dueñas) wonders if now would be a good time to lose her virginity.

There’s also, if you care, some social and political digs – a plane that goes round in circles is hardly a cryptic metaphor. The same goes for a doped economy which slumbers while an upper class goes on the rampage, and a fraudulent banker who may escape the consequences of his crimes. Even the airport where they are headed has a pointedness about it – La Mancha is available because it’s empty, like Spain’s Catellon airport, which was completed as the recession hit and was never used.

It’s all a little silly and transgressive. Almodóvar’s plots have always been baroque and labyrinthine, yet also very simply about love and desperation. Even if the comic invention splutters a bit before the end, there’s no-one quite like Almodóvar. Hollywood keeps trying to lure him over to America, and very sensibly he keeps ­resisting. Besides, he already makes Hollywood movies, on his terms. His movies are anything but foreign; we’ve all gone over the top, we’ve all lusted and we’ve all been damaged at some point. I’m So Excited is a ridiculously, riotously cheerful film, released at a point when the Spanish recession has put almost a third of its population on the dole. Almodóvar has made his country a little cocktail which toasts their woes, yet manages to make things seem a little brighter too.