Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘Strange Way of Life’ Debuts to Rave Reactions

Cannes 2023: The short film, starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, is a riff on classic Westerns with a same-sex love story

Strange Way of Life
Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in "Strange Way of Life"

This year’s Cannes has its first crowd-pleasing winner, even if Pedro Almodóvar’s “Strange Way of Life” is technically not a feature-length film.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, the 31-minute western concerns a cowboy riding across the desert to visit a lifelong friend who realizes that his old pal wants to be more than friends. The short feature marks Almodóvar’s second English-language offering following the 2020 feature “The Human Voice” starring Tilda Swinton.

Judging by the immediate post-screening response, next year’s Oscars may have a front-runner for Best Short Film.

Speaking previously on the Dua Lipa podcast, the filmmaker stated that “it’s a queer Western, in the sense that there are two men and they love each other. It’s about masculinity in a deep sense because the Western is a male genre.”

He continued, in sentiments that echoed his post-screening conversation on Wednesday, “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.”

The film was so heavily anticipated that ticketholders were turned away. A brief glance at Twitter shows a near-rapturous response.

Desert Sun reporter Ema Sasic noted that it was the “melodramatic, quarreling lovers western you’ve always wanted.” The main criticism, if you can call it that, is that audiences, including Variety awards pundit Clayton Davis, wanted it to be even longer, perhaps expanded to a feature-length picture.

And New York Times writer Siddhant Adlakha argued that it’s not worth waiting an hour in the rain, which to be fair would also apply to any number of otherwise excellent films.

See reactions below:

Check out TheWrap’s Cannes magazine here and all of our Cannes 2023 coverage here.