“Strange Way of Life”
CRITIC’S PICK: Pedro Almodóvar, one of Europe’s great filmmakers, has recently used shorts for his first two English-language efforts, 2020’s The Human Voice with Tilda Swinton and his new release Strange Way of Life (packaged together for theatrical release). Almodóvar has often celebrated classic Hollywood genres and Strange Way allows him to dabble in the Western. The 30-minute film depicts the reunion of two retired gunslingers (Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal), former lovers still attracted to each other decades later, despite the fraught circumstances that bring them together.
Hawke and Pascal’s performances convey such deep personal histories and complex feelings that the story could support a longer exploration. But their high emotions don’t quite fit with the mannered artifice of the project. Strange Way of Life was produced with the Saint Laurent fashion house, which can explain why the clothes look brand new and the supporting players like runway models. Perhaps Almodóvar wanted to craft a highly anachronistic Old West setting, but Strange Way of Life lacks true grit. — Curt Holman
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