When Pedro Almodóvar, the fabulous Spanish filmmaker extraordinaire, decided not to tackle Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, the baton was passed to none other than Ang Lee. But guess what, years later, Almodóvar found himself all teary-eyed over a key moment in Lee’s take on the story, and that’s when the magical gears in his creative brain started whirring. What came out of that whirlwind of inspiration? Well, it’s none other than Almodóvar’s own queer Western gem, Strange Way of Life, a snazzy thirty-one-minute flick starring the dynamic duo of Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal.
What’s Strange Way of Life About?
In Strange Way of Life, the story happens when young Jake and Silva, portrayed by Jason Fernández and José Condessa experience a passionate moment between them. Their romance blossoms in a wine cellar, where they drink directly from casks, leading to a tipsy make-out session. Twenty-five years later, Silva clings to the memories, while Jake, who once rejected the idea of a life together, tries to forget. However, during a reunion dinner, he succumbs to temptation and pours a glass of wine.
Pascal’s Silva exudes warmth and charm, openly acknowledging their shared “fate” and “destiny,” in contrast to Hawke’s stoic sheriff. But as Silva’s complex motives emerge, the tone shifts from innuendo to harsh realities. Silva’s son is a murder suspect, and Jake is tasked with bringing him to justice. Staring down the barrel of his ex-lover’s gun, Silva challenges him with a provocative question.
The film unfolds as the two men race through the desert on horseback, reminiscing about their time in Mexico. Unlike Proulx’s story, where Mexico symbolized forbidden longing, Almodóvar’s portrayal is more accepting. Female sex workers witness the lovers’ first kiss without judgment, highlighting the evolving societal attitudes.
Almodóvar’s signature style, filled with witty dialogue and narrative twists, is evident in Strange Way of Life. However, it explores the moments before and after intimacy, emphasizing attraction through subtle gestures and deep gazes.
Check Out Strange Way of Life Trailer
Sony Pictures Classic released the trailer for Strange Way of Life on April 26, 2023.
Where to Watch Strange Way of Life?
Strange Way of Life released nationwide on October 6, 2023. Prior to this big day, the short film had its grand debut at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 17, and it reportedly received a warm embrace from critics. After its Cannes premiere, the film also had a screening and a chat with director Almodóvar at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9.
As for streaming, well, the crystal ball is a bit foggy right now. While Mubi dropped a teaser on YouTube, we’re still waiting for news on whether you can catch it on the streaming platform. Keep those eyeballs peeled for updates!
Who’s in Strange Way of Life Cast?
Other than Pascal and Hawke, the cast incudes talented actors like José Condessa from Bem Me Quer and Jason Fernández (Welcome to Eden) taking on the roles of the younger Silva and Jake. Pedro Casablanc (Plastic Sea) takes up the Carpenter’s mantle, while Sara Sálamo (Everybody Knows) embodies Conchita, and Manu Ríos, a familiar face from Elite, steps into the Singer’s shoes. Completing the ensemble, we have George Steane, Ohiana Cueto, and Daniela Medina as Joe, Calixta, and Patricia, respectively
Is Strange Way of Life Movie Worth A Watch?
Almodóvar deliberately positions Strange Way of Life within the broader Western tradition, paying homage to classics like The Searchers and filming in iconic locations. The film’s presentation at Cannes invoked contemporary entries, emphasizing its unique narrative approach.
While Brokeback Mountain marked the end of a love story marred by societal pressures, Strange Way of Life presents a more optimistic perspective. The protagonists appear to be bisexual, and there are no societal constraints preventing their relationship. For most of the film, they exist in their own world.
Almodóvar hinted at the possibility of a feature-length adaptation at Cannes, suggesting a more in-depth exploration of the characters’ dynamic. For now, Strange Way of Life stands as a subtly powerful exploration of love and second chances.
This cinematic gem, Strange Way of Life, is a must for aficionados of queer Westerns, admirers of Pedro Almodóvar’s genius, and fans of Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke. Furthermore, it presents a rare and exhilarating opportunity to witness one of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers embark on a captivating exploration of the American West.