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:
STRANGE WAY OF LIFE is the melodramatic, quarreling lovers western you’ve always wanted. Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal are great together as their characters find each other after several years and go through a turbulent few hours. I so wish this was a feature length film! pic.twitter.com/ghRUTEN3DT
— Ema Sasic (@ema_sasic) May 17, 2023
VEM AÍ! Strange Way of Life, novo curta gay com Pedro Pascal, Ethan Hawke e Manu Rios, está sendo muito aclamado pela crítica em Cannes:
“Carregado de erotismo, há uma comovente história de amor entre dois vaqueiros envolvidos em sexo, desejo e vingança. É visualmente luxuoso… pic.twitter.com/t8dpkPBFgj
— Séries Brasil (@SeriesBrasil) May 17, 2023
Almodóvar’s 30-minute “Strange Way of Life” isn’t worth waiting an hour in the rain to see, but Ethan Hawke is the perfect vessel for a Wild West “Pain and Glory” — the rare American actor zoned in on this specific wavelength of conflicted rage and quiet longing. #Cannes2023
— Siddhant Adlakha (@SiddhantAdlakha) May 17, 2023
#StrangeWayOfLife begs for more and a full length feature version. Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke sizzle in the Spanish western with wonderous colors, gorgeous music and engaging camera work. Pedro Almodóvar can do no wrong.#Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/fWrQ65W0jX
— Clayton Davis (@ByClaytonDavis) May 17, 2023
"Strange Way of Life é um vislumbre delicado das emoções complicadas de homens que superam a amizade para se encontrarem conectados – e mais tarde atormentados – pelo vínculo inesperado que o amor naturalmente pode construir. Queria que fosse um filme completo, mas Hawke e Pascal… pic.twitter.com/6iQDMLpa9z
— Pedro Pascal News Brasil (@PedroPascalNews) May 17, 2023
STRANGE WAY OF LIFE is a delicate glimpse into the complicated emotions of men coasting past friendship to find themselves connected—and later tormented—by the unexpected bond that love naturally can build. wish this was a full feature, but hawke and pascal shine
— lex briscuso (▰˘◡˘▰) @ cannes! (@nikonamerica) May 17, 2023