I'm So Excited Almodovar

Pedro Almodóvar is the rare filmmaker who writes his own press kit notes, and I’m So Excited! is duly glossed with references to Easy Living, Luis García Berlanga, the Minotaur’s Labyrinth, and flight-path patterns over Spain. But however much informed passion went into the making of his latest film, this welcome experiment doesn’t come off.

Almodóvar sets his not especially energetic farce almost entirely within the confines of an airborne plane stricken with mechanical problems. After the economy-class passengers are summarily drugged while a solution is sought, a trio of gay flight attendants and assorted business-class passengers air their sexual and criminal secrets in the spirit of Almodóvarian overshare. But though the director’s odd obsession with somnophilia is reaffirmed, the revelations involve mostly unappealing performances and inelegant characterizations, and the director’s usually deft melodramatic imagination falls short.

The film serves well enough as a satirical allegory on the Spanish state of the nation, in which everyone seems headed for disaster while doing very little about it. But the film—most obviously in the interminable musical number that assumes the audience is already on board, as it were—testifies to Almodóvar’s need for a larger canvas for his meticulous mise en scène and expressive camerawork. The image of a plane in a holding pattern feels all too apt for the film’s conceits and characters, which never quite land.