Pedro Almodóvar is a film genius. He is the man behind such incredible movies as Women on The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All About My Mother, Talk to Her, and Volver.
He is responsible for redefining sexuality in Spanish film in the 1970's and '80s right when Spain was coming out of a dictatorship. His films always push the boundaries of what we know about identity, gender, passion, domestic violence, and secrets… oh, so many secrets. You leave an Almodóvar movie talking more about the themes of the film than the plot. He is the master of cinematic themes.
With his outlandish, hypersexualized, unrepentingly entertaining characters, Almodóvar will make you cringe, cry, and laugh all in the same film.
His latest film I'm So Excited focuses much more on the laugh than on the cringe and cry. The movie follows a group of passengers and flight crew on a plane while the plane repeatedly circles an airport in Spain because of a busted landing gear (the cause of which is due to the conduct of two very recognizable Almodóvar regulars running the ground check for the flight).
At a roundtable with the director and a few of the movie's stars, Carlos Areces, who plays one of the gay flight attendants, told an interesting anecdote about how Almodóvar invited the men playing flight attendants to a dinner party with some of his very flamboyant friends. Areces says, "We were dividing up gestures [for our roles] that we picked up at the dinner."
Almodóvar says at the roundtable, "I didn't realize it in the beginning but this movie is a kind of tribute to the '80s in Spain. It's a tribute to that decay and that absolute freedom that we found in every sense because Franco died five years before. With a new democracy everything changed for the best and I miss that feeling."
I'm So Excited is a major departure from his previous film, The Skin I Live In, a psychological thriller about a doctor turning a man into a woman in his basement. The ability to jump from that type of darkness to a comedy about a virgin soothsayer who foresees tragedy on a plane but all she wants to do is get it on, is not something you see out of many filmmakers.
"I'm not a sad person," Almodóvar says, "Both movies represent me completely. Just because I make a film like The Skin I Live In, it doesn't mean that I'm experiencing that kind of horror in my own skin."
I'm So Excited may not reflect Almodóvar's personal life, but it does reflect Spain's economic situation today. The director says, "We are living in an awful crisis in Spain and that gave me the idea of these people. It's very metaphoric of the Spanish situation. We are traveling around without knowing where we are going to land."
Leave it to Almodóvar to write a campy, clever airplane comedy full of metaphors and bigger themes on Spain.