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Strange Way of Life review – 'Disappointing' is the word for Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal's Western drama

Written and directed by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, this short western gay romance features Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in lead roles as Silva and Sheriff Jake. 

Strange Way of Life review – 'Disappointing' is the word for Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal's Western drama
Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in a still from Strange Way of Life

Last Updated: 06.04 PM, Feb 16, 2024


Strange Way of Life story

The plot revolves around two doomed gay lovers, Silva and Jake, whose chance encounter after 25 years unfolds a new drama. Sheriff Jake is on the hunt for his sister-in-law's killer, and the evidence throws up a secret truth that points towards his former lover. Will the Sheriff bring his family to justice or get entangled in the past?

Strange Way of Life review

The short feature film marks Pedro Almodóvar’s second English movie after his 2020 film The Human Voice. However, this is a tasteless gay romance drama with bland characters and a weak narrative, which makes even the 30-minute run-time unbearable. For almost 20 minutes, it struggles to gain momentum, and just when the tone is set, the post-credits cut short the interest as it ends abruptly with the only good dialogue it had.


Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, the talented Spanish director behind notable projects like The Skin I Live In and All About My Mother, 'Strange Way of Life' has a stellar star cast of Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal.

The Portuguese song Estranha Forma de Vida plays in the opening credits scene and sets the tone for the film, but the unexplored characters and passionless drama do nothing for the Western romance. Set against a rural backdrop, the story follows a stern sheriff torn between criminal justice and his repressed emotions for his old flame, Silva.

Almodóvar strives to reflect on societal constraints that create a barrier for many homosexuals to abandon their feelings for a much wider and more acceptable heterosexual future. This moral dilemma is explored half-heartedly because just when it catches momentum and gives characters a chance to express their resentment and give new hope for togetherness, the film ends abruptly. The last dialogue is a heartwarming trip down memory lane for both Silva and Jake as they ironically envision an imaginary life of care and love on the remote ranch.

It's interesting to watch actors like Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal play resentful former lovers who reunite after 25 years. But their poignant encounter is packed with an emotionless narrative and character depth. Even the sexual tension lacks lustre, unlike the flashback scene between the younger cowboy characters.

The violent standoff in the climax scene feels rushed and fails to create the dilemma of life’s choices. This queer cowboy drama film succumbs to its short run-time and the middle-aged actor's hesitation to recreate the fetish desires of their characters. The loosely packed narrative and convoluted backstory make the film disappointing. Partnered with fashion brand Saint Laurent, the modish costume for the characters adds a little something to the otherwise flawed project.

Strange Way of Life verdict

This short film makes you question why you ever chose to watch it. Featuring some gay romance and directionless cinematography, Strange Way of Life is a bizarre feature film that is inspired by Hollywood’s 1950s Old West.

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