I’d been watching the entertainment news for quite a while for this film, hoping it would come to theaters. Even though it’s a short film, the director is Pedro Almodóvar and his style is one that I really like. I also was quite excited to see both Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in a film together. After getting the opportunity to screen this film, I found the cinematography gorgeous, the story emotional and the actors giving passionate performances.
In “Strange Way of Life” written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, the short film stars two gunslingers who reunite after twenty five years. Ethan Hawke plays Sheriff Jake and Pedro Pascal is Silva. The film shows that while the reunion is a passionate one, the pair also have differences. And while both men love each other, they may not be able to reconcile the differences that drove them apart years ago.
One of the reasons this film works so well is the streamlined story, a narrative that cuts right to the core of the lives of these two gunslingers. The story demonstrates the passion between the two but also why the pair didn’t remain together. As a story about two men who once loved each other, it portrays that story with passion and emotion. We even get a taste of what the pair were like when they were young as both gunslingers remember their past together. The film does an excellent job of showing the relationship in a short amount of time. It also ends at just the right point for a short film. While I am willing to admit I want more, it’s because there is so much unspoken between the pair that heightens my curiosity but truly the film has the perfect length to give the narrative weight and emotion.
The cinematography is gorgeous. There is no other word for it. The scene as Silva enters town is perfectly shot. As someone who’s grown up in the West, there is a beauty to the landscape that Pedro Almodóvar captures exquisitely from the first scene to the last. And it is not just the outside shots that are beautiful. The scenes between Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal almost vibrate with tension and emotion. The visual scenes of the pair heighten the acting and the emotion that they wring out of every scene. The cinematography highlights their expressions, their passion and their pain. The visual scenes are a masterpiece. I especially love the confrontation of the two men over Silva’s son Joe played by George Steane.
The acting resonates with emotion. Pedro Pascal has an emotional energy and passion that just jumps off the screen. Small moments are full of a tenderness rarely seen. Ethan Hawke has emotional weight to his performance, anger but also an almost reluctant passion. Both men have a dynamic that makes every scene believable and authentic. Most of the scenes are between the two actors and they both bring masterful and passionate performances to their portrayals. The interactions between Pedro Pascal and George Steane are equally powerful. Their performances are phenomenal.
The one element that did not resonate with me was some of the dialogue. While the scenes were emotional and powerful, the scenes between Silva and his son Joe in particular used more formal and stiff language that pulled my attention away from the skillful acting. The dialogue came across as stilted and did detract. While that might have been a deliberate choice given that both are meant to be from Mexico and English would be a second language, it didn’t quite work for me. However, the short film was packed with emotion, with passion and with dynamic skilled performances that took my breath away.
If you love Pedro Almodóvar and short films that portray loving, passionate and emotional relationships, this film should be enjoyed in the theater. Both Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal shine in passionate performances and their acting is powerful. The cinematography is beautiful, each scene a perfect representation of what a Western represents. The music in the film also uplifts the film and adds emotion. The story is just the right length and tells the story with emotion. While I would gladly watch a longer film about these two men, the ending is emotional and powerful. “Strange Way of Life” will be in theaters this Friday, October 6th paired with Pedro Almodóvar’s “The Human Voice” for audience viewing.