The new short film by acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is a film that leaves its audience wondering why this story was not made into a feature-length movie. With much attention to its aesthetics and exceptional character development, Strange Way of Life leaves us wanting so much more from these compelling and intriguing characters. In addition, the film ends rather abruptly on a somewhat unsatisfying note.
In an old West village, Sheriff Jake’s (Ethan Hawke) latest case involves the murder of a woman committed by the son of his old, long-lost friend. Just before he must begin his pursuit of the suspect, his estranged friend Silva (Pedro Pascal) appears in his office, hoping to reconnect after much time has passed. While Silva genuinely wishes to catch up, he does have an ulterior motive. He hopes he can delay Jake’s pursuit of his son, thus allowing his child to escape before his capture.
So, if you are not familiar with Pedro Almodovar, the filmmaker is well-known for portraying LGBTQ characters in his movies, and this movie is no exception. Almodovar’s short shows two former lovers in the characters of Jake and Silva. As this movie takes place in the Old West, this type of relationship was certainly kept secret and hidden, and the film addresses this problem at the time.
Almodovar does an exceptional job of capturing the spirit and feel of classic American Westerns and presents a new dynamic twist to a Western romantic tragic story. In just a 31-minute run time, the filmmaker delivers a sad and haunting tale that is gorgeous to behold. His use of colors, particularly in the cinematography and the costume design, is vibrant despite the movie’s bleak tone.
Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal are excellent in their roles and share a lovely chemistry and the tension that comes with their relationship during this era. The movie also features some great uses of Western tropes, which always succeed in their efficacy. Again, my biggest complaints are the abrupt ending and the fact that this could have been an exceptional feature film. Still, this progressive take on the American Western is absolutely worth watching.