Opening 4 Jul 2013
After 99 film awards and 75 additional nominations, world-famous Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar can afford to relax and have some fun. I can see him flying around the world on various projects, sitting in first class and mentally imaging that the pilots are gay, although one hasn’t come out of the closet yet; the three stewards are definitely gay and generously imbibe the passengers’ liquor. He could imagine that next to him is a newly wedded couple on a honeymoon. Someone else is a contract killer flying to a victim; an older woman is a famous dominatrix in an erotic bar. There is an old maid clairvoyant, an older ladies’ man aka Don Juan, as well as a banker fleeing the country after having cleaned out his company’s finances.
With these characters flitting through his mind, Almodóvar lands, goes to his studio and writes his next script and this is the result: a flight on Peninsula Flight 2549 from Madrid to Mexico. He finds wonderful actors: Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Silva, Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo, Miguel Àngel Silvestre, Laya Martí, José María Yazpik, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas, Guillermo Willy Toledo, and José Luis Torrijo, who play the above-mentioned roles in that order. Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz have two-minute cameos, possibly just so that they can say they were in his latest film and who wouldn’t want to do that?
It is a fun comedy in bright primary colors, not to be taken seriously, nor for homophobes. All action takes place in the first-class cabin, in the cockpit and in the small kitchen space in between. As the alcohol streams and the mescaline sets in, so do inhibitions disappear. Meanwhile, the hundreds of tourist-class passengers, as well as their attendants, are unaware, having taken a sleeping drug which knocks them off, and out, of the action until landing time. My favourite scene is the stewards singing in a trio for the entertainment of the passengers. Why doesn’t that happen in real life? Next time, we find ourselves on a long, boring flight, we should try it: not singing, but writing a film on board – better than watching reruns. (Becky Tan)