I’M SO EXCITED is pure Almodovar. With a nod to his early films that were full of mayhem, comedy, and tragedy in equal measure, this literally high-flying fantasy is all that with a wicked sense of satire. In Almodovar’s universe, absurdity is the rule, extrapolating reality to its farthest possibilities to make a point that is all too relevant to a real world that is less bright, but no less treacherous. It is, perhaps, only Almodovar who could plop a cell phone in a woman’s basket from on high, and have on the line her ex-boyfriend mid-conversation with his current girlfriend. It’s the wildest of chance yet, in context, there is no noticeable disruption of the action. In fact, it’s so integral that is makes a peculiar kind of sense.
This time, it’s a group of first-class passengers trapped on a plane travelling from Spain to Mexico. Joyful news among the blue-collar workers who prepped the plane (cameos by Almodovar stalwarts Penelope Cruz and Antonio Bandares) for take-off has resulted in a landing-gear malfunction, leaving crew and passengers waiting for a free runway upon which to make an emergency landing about which none of them feel confident. Well, the ones that are awake anyway. The flight attendants in second-class have drugged their charges and themselves in order to maintain peace. First-class, however, is another story, as the passengers discover far-fetched connections, a psychic gets mixed messages and copes with the possibility of dying a virgin, and the flight crew, those that are awake that is, go through the wringer emotionally, spiritually, and sexually as death looms and the only means of communication with loved ones is an all-too public speaker phone.
There is method to all this madness, as Almodovar aims well-aimed jabs at society both in Spain and in general, populating the plane as he does with an aging celebrity dominatrix (Cecelia Roth), a disgraced financier fleeing the authorities (Jose Luis Torrijo), a Lothario of an actor (Guillermo Toledo) who has driven his latest conquest to attempt suicide, a newlywed (Miguel Angel Sylvestre), who doesn’t mind people watching, and a tall, dark man of mystery who knows more than he’s letting on (Jose Maria Yazpik). As they bicker and cajole and share too much or too little, the flight attendents (Javier Camera, Carlos Areces) one of whom cannot lie due to a previous flight trauma, attempts to keep order with a lethally intoxicating brew called Valencia Punch, non-committal but reassuring platitudes, and a dynamically choreographed version of the eponymous song that will make it hard to keep one’s seat. The metaphor, flying in circles, the opiate of the masses, and the distraction of pop culture in lieu of real information is deft, breathtaking, and with a tragedy unalloyed by the high-spirited, iconoclastic comedy.
The colors are aggressive, garish jewelry on the dominatrix that evokes high-priced auto-erotic asphyxiation, one flight-attendants portable and admirably ecumenical altar, even the sedate navy blue and red of the airline’s décor has a searing quality to the juxtaposition. The emotions are aggressive, too, as the characters who are larger than life twist and turn at the scenario chance has thrown their way. Yet Almodovar keeps them on point and deadly serious, faces straight, tongues in cheek, and directly in touch with fear.
I’M SO EXCITED is as smart and as funny and as provocative as satire comes, and as dark, despite those blazing turquoises and yellows. The joy of sex, the terror of death, and the eccentricity of human relationships has never been celebrated more cerebrally, or more profanely, with such viscerally sensual delight.