Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke are lovers in Pedro Almodóvar’s short film. Read our full Strange Way of Life review.
Short films don’t usually get the exposure they deserve. They can be rather brilliant and we’re doing our best to highlight some excellent ones, because they deserve the same kind of recognition as their longer brethren. Remember how unequivocally brilliant David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out was? In just a few minutes Sandberg did much more than most filmmakers can in 90 minutes.
It’s promising that Pedro Almodóvar’s latest short film, Strange Way of Life, is heading to cinemas, even if it’s for one night only. The 31-minute film premiered in Cannes earlier this year and immediately ignited a feverish buzz around it, thanks to the film’s casting and subject matter.
Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke stars as two former friends (and lovers) whose paths cross again, with dangerous consequences. Pascal’s Silva rides into town, complaining of back pain and a need for a good doctor, but Hawke’s Jake quickly finds out Silva’s back is just fine as the two share dinner and a night of passion.
Strange Way of Life is Almodóvar’s second English-language project, following 2020’s The Human Voice, starring the formidable Tilda Swinton. The Human Voice seemed somewhat more suited for the short film format, whereas there is a nagging feeling throughout Strange Way of Life that this should have been a feature.
31 minutes go past awfully fast, especially in such good company. Both Hawke and Pascal are on excellent form, infusing their characters with a deep, rich sense of history. Almodóvar’s dialogue gives us enough information on the surface, but it’s really the way it’s delivered that makes the film soar.
So, why, WHY is it only 31 minutes long?! Just as you settle into the Old West and become acquainted with Silva and Jake, the credits roll. If the idea is to leave your audience wanting more, Almodóvar has done a tremendous job, but I can’t help but feel a little shortchanged here.
Of course, Strange Way of Life was produced by Saint Laurent, Yves Saint Laurent’s production arm, launched earlier this year. The short film is their first production and naturally, the costumes are on point. The briefness of the film also helps in making it not feel like just a fashion film, but the cynic in me thinks Saint Laurent and Almodóvar knew exactly what they were doing when they cast Internet’s favourite boyfriends as gay lovers.
There is so much to love here, from the immaculate cinematography and score to the nuanced performances, but when measured against Almodóvar’s larger body of work, Strange Way of Life falls short of expectations.
Strange Way of Life is in cinemas for one night only on 25 September
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