Monday, August 05, 2013

I'm So Excited!

Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, Los amantes pasajeros (I’m So Excited!) is about a group of passengers boarding a flight to Mexico where lots of mayhem ensues during the course of the flight. The film marks a return of sorts to the earlier comedies that Almodovar did in the early 80s after a near-long decade focusing on dramas and suspense films. Starring Javier Camara, Cecilia Roth, Lola Duenos, Raul Arevalo, Blanca Suarez, and special appearances from Almodovar regulars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz. Los amantes pasajeros is a witty yet wild comedy from Pedro Almodovar.

The film revolves around a flight from Madrid to Mexico where something has gone wrong with the landing gear as the plane is looking for a place to land. With the economy class passengers all asleep due to the sedatives that are given, only the pilots, the first-class stewards, and a small number of first-class passengers are aware of the situation as they drink Valencia cocktails with mescaline, endure all sorts of craziness, and tell their own stories while being entertained by the stewards. It’s a film that plays into a world in which stewards, passengers, and pilots deal with themselves as they’re not sure if they will survive.

Pedro Almodovar’s screenplay explores the dynamics of these characters as it includes a bisexual pilot, his sexually-confused co-pilot, three gay stewards, an engaged couple, a TV actor, a famed erotic actress, a securities officer, a virginal psychic, and a bank manager dealing with the financial collapse of his own bank and an airport. All of them are all dealing with issues of their own as the story has a structure that plays into a span of few hours where the characters are dealing with situation about the plane. Some have to use the public phone to call loved ones while others finally face the truths of their own situations and why they’re fleeing to Mexico. It all plays to Almodovar’s approach to humor where these characters all try to handle the situation as everyone starts to loosen up and such while waiting to see where to land.

Almodovar’s direction is very stylized but also intimate as the film is mostly set in an airplane that includes a hilarious dance sequence to the title song by the Pointer Sisters. With some stylish compositions and the use of the widescreen, Almodovar gets the chance to create an intimacy while having the frame fill out inside the plane. Even as he incorporates many silly situations and dialogue about sex and such in the course of the film. While there’s some scenes outside of the plane that involves some minor characters related to the main characters, it would play to some of the drama as well as the humor. While the humor is subtle and the drama low-key, Almodovar still crafts a very entertaining comedy about life in an airplane.

Cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine does fantastic work with the cinematography from the exteriors set in some of the locations to the more low-key yet colorful scenes inside the plane. Editor Jose Salcedo does excellent work with the editing to play up some of its humor as well as a few stylish jump-cuts for a sequence involving the Valencia cocktail. Production designer Antxon Gomez, with set decorator Maria Clara Notari and art director Federico Garcia Cambero, does amazing work with the look of the airplane from the look of the economy class to the more spacious look of the first class section.

Costume designers David Deflin and Tatiana Hernandez do fabulous work with the costumes from the colorful dresses the women wear to the steward uniforms. Visual effects supervisor Eduardo Diaz does nice work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects that involve a few scenes shot outside of the airplane. Sound editor Pelayo Gutierrez does terrific work with the sound to play up the atmosphere of the plane including some of the sounds that occur inside. The film’s music by Alberto Iglesias is brilliant as it mostly an orchestral score that is playful at times but also quite somber while its soundtrack includes a rhythmic take on Fur Elise as well as a few pop tunes including the title song by Pointer Sisters.

The casting by Luis San Narciso is incredible for the ensemble that is created as it features appearances from Almodovar regulars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz as two airport employees in the beginning of the film as well as Paz Vega as a mentally-ill lover of the TV actor, Blanca Suarez as a former flame of that actor, Miguel Angel Silvestre and Laya Marti as a newlywed couple, and Agustin Almodovar as an air traffic controller. Guillermo Toledo is excellent as the TV actor Ricardo Galan who is dealing with his own issues with a troubled girlfriend while Jose Maria Yazpik is superb as the security officer Infante who has a crush on the aging actress Norma Boss. Jose Luis Torrijo is terrific as the troubled Sr. Mas as a man trying to run from the law while admitting to his own personal issues.

Raul Alveros and Carlos Areces are hilarious in their respective roles as the gay stewards Ulloa and Fajardo as they bring a lot of camp to the film. Javier Camara is amazing as the lead steward Joserra as a man dealing with relationship issues with one of the co-pilots while trying to get everything under control. Antonio de la Torre and Hugo Silva are brilliant in their respective roles as the bisexual pilot Alex Acero and the sexually-confused co-pilot Benito. Lola Duenos is wonderful as the virginal psychic Bruna who says strange things and is eager to lose her virginity while Cecilia Roth is fabulous as Norma Boss as a former erotic film actress who has a hard time dealing with the chaos of the plane while revealing about her own secrets of her life.

Los amantes pasajeros is a very delightful film from Pedro Almodovar. While it’s a pretty light-hearted film that might be considered a minor film from the famed filmmaker. It’s still one that is full of joy and laughs while just playing around a bit without taking things to seriously with some help from his cast and crew. In the end, Los amantes pasajeros is a stellar yet exciting film from Pedro Almodovar.

Pedro Almodovar Films: Pepi, Luci, Bom - Labyrinth of Passion - Dark Habits - What Have I Done to Deserve This? - Matador - Law of Desire - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! - High Heels - Kika - The Flower of My Secret - Live Flesh - All About My Mother - Talk to Her - Bad Education - Volver - Broken Embraces - The Skin I Live In - Julieta - Pain & Glory - (The Human Voice (2020 short film)) - (Parallel Mothers)

The Auteurs #37: Pedro Almodovar Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2013


Alex Withrow said...

Oh man, I hadn't much interest in seeing this one, but your review has definitely changed my mind. Gonna seek it out now.

thevoid99 said...

It's the kind of film where you need to have some low expectations, sit back, and relax. It may be a minor Almodovar film but a minor Almodovar film is still better than most films out there. Plus, you might have a good time singing the Pointer Sisters and obsessing about Valencia cocktails.