This sub-titled Spanish comedy film by Pedro Almodovar is set almost entirely on an commercial airplane flying from Madrid to Mexico City.
The plane was not checked when it left and has a problem with its landing gear. The pilots of the plane, Benito (Hugo Silva) and Alex (Antonio de la Torre), are bisexual. The Stewards, Ulloa (Raul Arevalo), Fajas (Carlos Areces) and Joserra (Javier Camara) are homosexual, and the plane is loaded with bizarre characters that Almodovar puts on display. Two of the stewards have had sex with the pilots, the pilots have had sex with each other, and the plane circles in the air under the threat of an emergency landing.
Pedro Almodovar is one of the most talented directors in Europe and he has been responsible for some very fine movies such as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Talk to Her (2002), and The Skin I live In (2011). He brings a sure hand to his direction and directs with style, but focuses mainly on the eccentricities of his characters.
He typically uses sexuality for comic and dramatic appeal and his characters show human foibles that often reveal interesting insights into human weaknesses and strengths. In this film, however, he plays fast and loose with human sexuality and is more concerned with stereotypes and preconceptions about it than any real development of human character.
The movie is essentially a farce. Passengers take drugs on board, have sex with each other, confess candidly when their life is threatened by disaster, and the crew engages in musical routines on board as the fate of the plane hangs in the balance. Any drama is taken over by Almovodar, who seems content to provide campy, frothy entertainment for appeal, and in the most cheeky and irreverent way that he can.
Almodovar is a director used to extracting comedy out of clichés and this film shows that skill very well. However, this is a movie that is against taste on almost every count. One gets glimpses of the genuine talent that lies in its making, but the movie takes you manipulatively and unapologetically on the director’s personal fantasy ride.
- Peter Sheehan, ACOFB
Starring: Javier Camara, Antonio de la Torre, Raul Arevalo, Hugo Silva, Carlos Areces, Cecilia Roth, and Lola Duenas. Directed by Pedro Almodovar. Rated MA15+ Restricted. (Strong sexual references). 90 min.