I'm So Excited (Los Amantes Pasajeros)
You may be excited for the film because of the wild teasers or for the name in the writer/director chair, but after watching it you may feel a little let down, and if you are a fan of Almodóvar you may feel you've had quite the bumpy ride but perhaps still come out the other side with your love for his work intact.
There are some absolute genius moments to I'm So Excited and it shows off some wonderful writing from someone with a very wicked and at times rather dark sense of humour. Some of the characters, their lines and stories are fantastic to watch and the film has some funny moments in it, in fact there were a few moments where I did laugh out loud. However there were many more that seem to go too far or miss their mark.
Often it felt like the film was trying to push the humour through and it came across as feeling forced or just not that funny. You could see where the joke lay and what the comedy of this moment would be but it didn't raise the expected smile or laughter.
You can see the wit of writing in moments such as the pilots and the steward and the tangled sexual web spun amongst them. Some of the dialogue regarding their relationships is very funny, particularly from the co-pilot discussing his own view of his sexuality while the film slowly reveals his story as well as from the steward himself, his one liners or side comments are fantastic and just get better as they all decide just to get drunk.
Yet it's from this character that some of the moments of the film pushing too far come. It's not that I'm feeling prudish about these moments rather that they feel too much so that they break the joke and make you feel that if the script had just held a little back it would have been much funnier, or even funny at all.
The musical number on board the flight was another example of the stronger comedic parts of the film as the drunken stewards decide to put on their own musical show for the passengers, the first class passengers. That makes me remember another funny aspect of the script, why only the first class passengers are involved in the film. That is because the stewards decide to drug the standard and economy classes of the plane in order to ensure they didn't have to deal with them during the flight. Moments such as those are superbly imagined and well written.
While there are great moments and aspects to the script such as the ones I've mentioned above, they do feel somewhat sparse amongst the other moments where you can see the jokes coming up but which just don't work as well as the others. While I was watching I could tell the joke was building or was about to hit and come the final delivery it just didn't connect, and that was a disappointment considering the moments of the highs.
Throughout the film there is an undercurrent of strangeness that seems to ebb and flow as the comedy works or fails. When the comedy is working you forget some of the stranger aspects of the story and go with it, enjoying the characters and decisions. However when the comedy fades and doesn't work the more unusual and stranger aspects of the film become far more noticeable and I thought took over from my enjoyment of the film.
The film takes place on board a plane, mostly in the first class and cabin crew areas but also often in the cockpit and occasionally in the other cabin classes. For the most part the writer/director has cleverly kept the pace going well, the story developing and the audience engaged without the need to leap elsewhere. There are some clever ways this is achieved, particularly in developing the characters' back-stories, watch for example use of the speaker on the mobile phone for a clever way to keep us on board but allow outside influence on the story and character development.
It's not just about clever tricks, there are some engaging moments with the characters telling their stories coupling the writing, performance and the cutting between plot lines and characters to keep your interest on them. I really respected the film for doing this and taking some bold choices from the first key-press, for the cinema screens around it are becoming crammed with bigger and bolder films, films that use more and more visual techniques to grab the audience rather than more traditional storytelling.
For all the praise I can give the film for the use of the single location it just throws it all away when we suddenly find ourselves on the ground, in a city, outside the plane. This is a jarring moment and seems incredibly out of place, especially as the only other exterior scenes are at the beginning of the film before take-off and the end of the film. It begins by showing the other end of a conversation with a passenger on the flight but pretty soon expands into something more and while, as I've alluded to before, the use of the mobile phone keeps us tied to the plane it is a pretty thin connection as we are now in a completely different location.
It seemed strange that we could not stay aboard the plane and have this story told out to us in a similar way as we had for the rest of the film, it would not have made me connect any less with this character and their story. Seeing it played out in this manner pushed me back from the film and I felt rather let down and confused. This sequence also asks us to make the biggest leap in storyline in the entire film and seems almost as absurd as a Midsomers Murder plot line. While we are soon back aboard the plane I just couldn't shake the confused and interrupted feeling these sequences brought.
The final scenes of the flight, which I don't want to spoil for you, are well conceived and portrayed and provide for a fitting conclusion to the story as well as the characters we've been travelling with.
It's also worth mentioning the enjoyable score for the film and not just from the musical number choices. They all add to the flair, flamboyance and overall brightness of Pedro Almodóvar's film. Talking of which there are a few recognisable faces from very early on that you might connect with his films, keep watching for their rather amusing scene together.
I'm So Excited has some funny moments but for me these were overridden by the seeming desire to shock the audience and be controversial, pushing the boundaries a little too far. The funny moments were outnumbered by the almost funny moments - times when you could see the set-up of the joke coming but the delivery failed to impact, many of these dampened by the desire to push the audience too far.
There's a lot to be had from the script which is intelligently written with some intriguing characters and relationships and the way the film keeps your interest locked in the cramped confines of the fore of the plane while managing to deliver tension and intrigue is reason alone to watch the film, even if they do oddly drop that premise for the one sequence.
Couple that with the flamboyant characters, the bright styling, and the fact that this is a Pedro Almodóvar film and we have even more reasons to watch it. Yet I just didn't think it gelled together. The out of place external plane sequences were jarring, the failed jokes and some story lines which felt like they could have been whittled down, perhaps another run through the editing suite could allow it to offer more.
Fans of Almodóvar will gain a lot from this, others will find it has its moments but many more that fall flat.