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Pedro Almodóvar’s “Strange Way of Life” Shows His Love of Westerns

Pedro Almodóvar’s films are always highly anticipated at the Cannes Film Festival – even when the film is, in fact, a short film being screened out of competition.


The premiere of Pedro Almodóvar latest film, Strange Way of Life, was a highly sought-after ticket. It was screened only once, on May 18th. The short film stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal as ex-lovers who reunite after twenty-five years.

Almodóvar always said he wanted to shoot his own version of Brokeback Mountain. Now, eighteen years later, he finally presents his vision. In English, no less – it’s only the second time he does that.  

Pedro Pascal plays a cowboy named Silva, who crosses the desert to revisit Ethan Hawke’s Sheriff Jake in an effort to save his own son from a murder trial. Even though Jake already suspects the true nature of Silva’s visit, Silva attempts to convince the sheriff that his visit is unrelated to the crime. Old desires awaken during their meeting.

In the morning, Sheriff Jake tells Silva that their relationship can’t change his professional duty – Silva’s son must answer for the murder. As the lovers separate again, they quietly remember their two-month stay in Mexico. During the flashbacks of these erotic memories, Silva and Jake are played by younger actors Jose Condessa and Jason Fernandez. Back in the present, the two men wrestle with their love for one another and their responsibilities. Spectators will find out for themselves how this conflict concludes after watching the 31-minute short.

At the Q&A following the premiere, Pedro Almodóvar talked about his love of Westerns, and how contemporary cinema is experiencing a renaissance in the genre. He particularly noted female directors’ reclamation of the genre, admiring films such as Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog and Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow. He was happy to work with such wonderful actors. Ethan Hawke responded that receiving an invitation from Almodóvar to act in this film must have meant that he had ‘done something right in life.”

After all, it is a great honor to work with a director who cares so deeply not only about his actors but about every single detail within the film. The colors of the costumes carry a deeper meaning, as well. Presented by Saint Laurent, characters are dressed in bright tones. Silva’s green jacket seems to represent his hope. Jake’s formal grey suit represents adherence to the status quo.

Ethan Hawke concluded, “Yes, this movie is about love and desire, but everything that I do is done with love and desire. It’s what keeps the world spinning.”