Production compaines: El Deseo S.A.
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Screenwriter: Pedro Almodovar
Starring: Antonio Banderas as León, Penélope Cruz as Jessica, Paz Vega as Alba, Blanca Suárez as Ruth, Lola Dueñas as Bruna, Cecilia Roth as Norma Bosch, Javier Cámara as Joserra, Hugo Silva as Benito Morón, Miguel Ángel Silvestre as El novio, Carlos Areces as Fajas, Raúl Arévalo as Ulloa, Miguel Ángel Silvestre as Novio, Laya Martí as Novia, Antonio de la Torre as Álex Acero, José María Yazpik as Infante, Guillermo Toledo as Ricardo Galán, Agustín Almodóvar as Controlador
Fans of more recent Almodovar films like The Skin I Live In or Volver should be warned about this one, because it harks back to his much cheesier 1980s films with its broad comedy, lurid production values and camp characters. But even if it looks fluffy and silly, there are some serious things going on under the surface, as Almodovar undermines stereotypes and plays with sexuality issues. Although this means that most of the humour is aimed at a gay audience.
It all takes place on a flight from Spain to Mexico, but shortly after take-off the pilot (de la Torre) announces that a mechanical fault means they need to make an emergency landing. Then the passenger Bruna (Duenas) reveals that she's a virginal psychic who sees death ahead, and everyone starts to panic. The flight crew (Camara, Areces and Arevalo) try to distract the passengers from impending doom by performing a choreographed number to the Pointer Sisters' eponymous hit. And when that doesn't work, they lace everyone's drinks with mescaline.
Each person in the first class cabin (economy is sound asleep) has his or her own crisis, including a notorious dominatrix (Roth), a businessman (Torrijo) on a quest, a shady hitman (Yazpik), a just-married groom (Silvestre) who prefers his wife to be asleep, and a man (Toledo) running from his suicidal girlfriend (Vega). And the pilots and flight attendants are also romantically entangled. All of this swirls together like a nutty 1970s Mexican soap, complete with flimsy-looking sets and a sparky mariachi score.
The biggest laughs come from the barbed interaction between the queeny stewards, whose dialog is genuinely hilarious. And everyone else has their moments as well (Almodovar stalwarts Banderas and Cruz have cameos in the prologue, as the amorous ground crew that causes the plane's problem). But even with astute commentary on gender roles, political hypocrisy and twisted romance, Almodovar keeps the film resolutely tacky. He's much more interested in letting his gifted cast run wild with the nutty slapstick, sex-fuelled mayhem and issue-based melodrama. And if you go with it, you won't be able to stop giggling.