STRANGE WAY OF LIFE
Starring: Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
At only 31 minutes, Strange Way of Life feels like the prologue to a longer story. Both Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal provide instantly interesting characters, but they’re never given the chance at deep exploration. Their passion is often relegated to longing looks and helpless pleas that feel like they’re bubbling towards the climax of a full-length feature film that never comes. Although the story may fall short, Pedro Almodóvar’s direction suits the Western genre wonderfully, and he handles this queer love story with care. Considering the cast and scope, I understand why this was made as a short film, but it’s an incomplete tale.
Having never seen a Pedro Almodóvar film, I’m not sure if Strange Way of Life is an accurate representation of his work, but if his full-length features are anything like the 31-minute short, I’m going to start making a better effort at viewing his work because this short is tense and well-acted, with vigorous performances from Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. Almodóvar is able to speak volumes about what one will do for love within the limited runtime, and with such an abrupt end, I’m very intrigued in seeing if he fills out the rest of this well-told tale.
Strange Way of Life is a melodramatic queer western that feels like a cologne commercial that’s trying to rip off Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. While the performances from Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal are very nuanced and engaging, the true issue with this short film is that it tries to say too much in such a short amount of time. It would have benefited greatly if it was a feature, and to be honest, one of the few things that saved it from being a total miss was Pedro Pascal's bare ass.
This film was reviewed by Nick and Paige as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2023 New York Film Festival, respectively.