The Western genre, with its iconic cowboys, thrilling gunfights, and lawless landscapes, was a hallmark of the Golden Age of cinema from the 1940s to the 1960s. However, as film evolved, the genre visited the big screen less and less frequently. Though, in the last decade or so, we’ve seen a bit of a resurgence. And one of those films includes the newest short film by Pedro Almodovar, Strange Way of Life.
Here’s what we know so far about Strange Way of Life, which stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal.
A New Western Short
Strange Way of Life is another Western project that joins more recent releases under the genre. The films released in the last decade, like The Rider, The Harder They Fall, The Power of the Dog, and now, Strange Way of Life is the latest film on board the genre. Strange Way of Life was announced in late June of 2022 and started filming a month later.
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar filmed the short with his production team and company El Deseo. Strange Way of Life is also Almodovar’s second English-language project following another short film released in 2020, The Human Voice. The Human Voice starred Tilda Swinton.
Strange Way of Life has a total run time of 31 minutes and first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2023. It was also selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of an event with Almodovar on September 9.
Strange Way of Life Official Trailer
The trailer for Strange Way of Life was released on April 26, 2023, leading up to its Cannes premiere. It gives audiences a preview of the traditional Western themes. The themes are paired with the tension between the main characters Silva and Jake, who have a romantic history. The clip ends with Silva asking what their relationship is now.
The official synopsis of Strange Way of Life was also released by Sony Pictures Classics.
“A man rides a horse across the desert that separates him from Bitter Creek. He comes to visit Sheriff Jake. Twenty-five years earlier, both the sheriff and Silva, the rancher who rides out to meet him, worked together as hired gunmen. Silva visits him with the excuse of reuniting with his friend from his youth and they do indeed celebrate their meeting. But the next morning Sheriff Jake tells him that the reason for his trip is not to go down the memory lane of their old friendship.”
Almodovar told IndieWire at Cannes that Strange Way of Life was his answer to a similarly-themed film, Brokeback Mountain.
“It could be like my answer to Brokeback Mountain,” said Almodovar, who famously considered and ultimately turned down directing the film, which inevitably went to Ang Lee. “I think Ang Lee made a wonderful movie, but I never believed that they would give me complete freedom and independence to make what I wanted. Nobody told me that – they said, ‘You can do whatever you want,’ but I knew that there was a limitation.”
Strange Way of Life Cast
Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal lead Strange Way of Life, playing Jake and Silva, respectively. Pascal is most popularly known for his roles in Game of Thrones, The Mandalorian, and especially The Last of Us. The actor is set to appear in Gladiator 2 and Drive-Away Dolls.
Hawke is most widely known for his roles in 90s projects Dead Poets Society, the Before Sunrise trilogy, and Gattaca. The actor also recently appeared in the Marvel series Moon Knight, as well as The Northman, and The Black Phone. Hawke will appear in the Netflix drama Leave the World Behind and the biographical drama Wildcat with daughter Maya Hawke.
Also part of Strange Way of Life is Jose Condessa and Jason Fernandez as the younger versions of Silva and Jake. The film also includes Pedro Casablanc as the Carpenter, Sara Salamo as Conchita, Manu Rios as the Singer, and George Steane, Ohlana Cueto, and Daniela Medina play Joe, Calixta, and Patricia respectively.
As said earlier, Pedro Almodovar helmed Strange Way of Life. The Oscar-winning director is known for his films including The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory, and Parallel Mothers. Esther Garcia and Almodovar’s brother Augustin Almodovar serve as executive producer and producer respectively. Anthony Vaccarello is the associate producer and the film’s costume designer in collaboration with Yves Saint Laurent.
The film is edited by Teresa Font with cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine. Barbara Peiro and Diego Pajuelo are also the film’s associate producers. The score is composed by Alberto Iglesias, another frequent collaborator with Almodovar.
What to Expect
Filming for Strange Way of Life took place in southern Spain, including Tabernas in Almeria where production started. Production started in August 2022 and wrapped by early September 2022, according to Hawke’s Instagram post.
In an interview back in April, Almodovar revealed that the movie’s title is based on a song by Amalia Rodrigues. It also holds some deep meaning to the plot.
“The strange way of life referred to in the title alludes to the famous fado by Amalia Rodrigues, whose lyrics suggest that there is no strange existence than the one that is lived by turning your back on your own desires,” said the director. The “desires” in the film refer to the relationship between Silva and Jake, who are former flames.
Noting the rarity of LGBTQ+ relationships represented in Westerns, Almodovar shared his approach in a podcast by Dua Lipa.
Almodovar said Strange Way of Life is a “queer Western, in the sense that there are two men and they love each other.”
The director added that “it’s about masculinity in a deep sense because the Western is a male genre. What I can tell you about the film is that it has a lot of the elements of the Western – it has the gunslinger, it has the ranch, it has the sheriff – but what it has that most Westerns don’t have is the kind of dialogue that I don’t think a Western film has ever captured between two men.”
Strange Way of Life Release Date
The theatrical release of Strange Way of Life starts in New York and Los Angeles on October 4, 2023. The film will then be premiered everywhere else in the US on October 6, 2023. Sony Pictures Classics pairs the film with The Human Voice.
There has yet to be an announcement on whether the film will be made available on streaming platforms. But we’ll keep this updated when that announcement comes.