Published Jul 04, 2013Aesthetically, Almodóvar's latest exaggerative work of human interconnectivity draws from his existing filmic palette. Male attire reflects profession and the degree of performed masculinity. It is surrounded by geometrically conscious, wildly coloured set design that either blends or clashes with the culturally adherent women, all adorning themselves in sundresses or designer gowns, depending on their degree of sexual awareness.
Highly stylized composition and spatial arrangements similarly exist in I'm So Excited just as they have in the Spanish auteur's other, more dramatic, ouroboric works of late. There's flow and awareness of how the viewer's eye travels across the screen, suggesting intent and calculation in every moment, which work when every seemingly disconnected thread eventually weaves together, as they have in Broken Embraces, Talk to Her and many others.
But where this work deviates and, as some might suggest, reverts back to Almodóvar's earlier, explicitly queer works is in reckless abandon, embracing pure anarchic comedy, linking sex and death not by weighty metaphysical conceits and contemplations, but by the hormonal urges and eschewed façade forced mortal introspection impose. As a group of first-class passengers — those in coach were drugged by the stewardesses — on board a flight from Spain to Mexico learn that the landing gear is malfunctioning, requiring the plane to crash land, they panic, think of past regrets and immediately seek coitus.
Nothing here resembles reality. Three homosexual male flight attendants — Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo), Joserra (Javier Cámara) and Fajas (Carlos Areces) — all dressed in matching, fitted uniforms, gossip about blowing the married, bi-curious pilot (Antonio de la Torre) and speculate about the supernatural premonitions of 40-year-old virgin passenger Bruna (Lola Dueñas). When not doing a choreographed song and dance routine to the titular, very telling Pointer Sisters song, they're feeding the passengers drugs in Mimosa form or trying to reassure those unsettled by the news.
Eventually, calls home from the various passengers — a fancy prostitute (Cecilia Roth); a hired assassin (José Maria Yazpik); a philanderer (Guillermo Toledo); and so on — reveal partial interconnectedness, along with an assassination plot and the revelation that all men, aside from hired killers, harbour repressed homosexual urges.
Beyond the observation that regrets act as distractions that either impose upon safety or life's peaceful progression, there isn't much to dissect. Almodóvar still employs his usual structure of deliberateness though, which unfortunately never pays off. It's possible that this, along with the many cameos of actors that have been featured in his large lexicon of films, is merely a bit of self-deprecation. But it doesn't make for particularly compelling cinema, especially when the endless blowjob jokes and wide-eyed revelations about past lovers and indiscretions don't inspire many laughs.
At the end of it all, the only thing funny about I'm So Excited is that active rape is played as comedy. The lack of awareness in reversing the genders — a woman rapes a man — doesn't make it amusing so much as it makes the entire film seem like a pitiable, rather ignorant, unintended joke. (Mongrel Media)