Strange Way Of Life *****
Starring: Pedro Pascal, Ethan Hawke, Manu Rios, Jason Fernandez
Director: Pedro Almodovar
The world’s greatest director of LGBT+ cinema, Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother, Volver), has made his first venture into English-language filmmaking in this short film, Strange Way Of Life.
It’s the American West and sheriff Jake (Hawke - Boyhood, Before Sunrise) is investigating the murder of a young woman. Certain that he knows the culprit, he is taken aback when the accused’s father, Silva (Pascal - The Last Of Us, Narcos), appears to make a direct plea for leniency. It has been twenty-five years since they have seen each other, when they were lovers. With their feelings rekindled, Jake must decide whether to pursue his duty as lawmaker with his head or with his heart.
With the same colour, passion and suspense that has become Almodóvar’s calling card, this short film adeptly captures this brief nodal moment that’s as romantic as it is exciting. All the Western genre tropes are here in glorious abundance, with horses, stetsons and Mexican stand-offs combined to make a classic slice of The Wild West. If anything, the usual blistering tension is heightened all the more by the characters’ deep longing for one another. Moments of tenderness are far outweighed by these cowboys being exactly that, with guns drawn in the scorching heat.
Atmospheric, cinematic and beautiful, the plot is simple but the characters complex. Hawke and Pascal have real chemistry together, so it does feel a shame that this was kept to a short runtime, as I’ll not be the only person thirsty for more! If this is what Almodóvar can do in just thirty minutes to experiment in the English language, then bring on the next one! But how could we ever have doubted him?
Following in the well-(Cuban)heeled footsteps of Brokeback Mountain and The Power Of The Dog, it appears Gay Cowboy Films have become a sub-genre in its own right. And if Almodóvar, Campion and Ang Lee can do it, then I’m holding out for a Ridley Scott-helmed gay remake of Gone With The Wind.
UK Release: Out now to watch on VOD on MUBI