The Reel Review


A small-town sheriff has his life disrupted when his former love interest, a man whose adult son he is pursuing for murder, returns 25 years later to rekindle their romance. Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal star in this 31-minute LGBTQ+ Western/romantic drama from acclaimed Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!).

Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in Strange Way of Life

On paper, Strange Way of Life has the markings of a great Western short: an interesting premise – is Silva back really to be with Jake or only to save his son?, a vivid color palate of breathtaking scenic vistas, and solid performances by its two stars. The more polished, serious styling is a big departure from Almodovar’s more typical over-the-top, zany comedies and it works.

Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke in Strange Way of Life

But Almodovar’s screenplay just barely scratches the surface of the story. The clunky dialogue feels forced and we never really get to know his characters and the short ends just as it is starting to get somewhat interesting. It also includes some lazy casting – a jarring flashback of younger versions of Jake and Silva 25 years prior that bear absolutely zero resemblance to his two stars. Strange Way of Life is strangely, for the normally on point Almodovar, all style and no substance.


• Writer/director Pedro Almodovar was once attached to direct 2005’s Brokeback Mountain, but backed out, fearing he couldn’t do the film adaptation of Annie Proulx’s 1997 short story justice. He says Strange Way of Life is his answer to that film.

Tilda Swinton in The Human Voice

• This is Pedro Almodovar’s second English-language film, after the 2020 short The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton.

Strange Way of Life was filmed in August 2022 near Almeria, Spain where Sergio Leone directed Clint Eastwood in his famous Dollars trilogy in the mid-1960s.

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