Strange Way of Life
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Pedro Pascal, Ethan Hawke, Manu Rios, José Condessa
Spanish auteur Almodóvar famously turned down the chance to direct ‘Brokeback Mountain’. This homoerotic cowboy movie is, he claims, his ‘answer’ to the question raised by that movie. It opens with dapper horsemen Silva (the ubiquitous Pascal, sporting St Lauren) riding into town where he encounters Jake (Hawke), an old acquaintance he has not seen for twenty-five years. Jake, now a sheriff, is searching for the killer of a local woman, and the description points to Silva’s unruly son, which indicates that Silva has an ulterior motive in looking his old friend up. The mise-en-scène and design are typically immaculate and the locales are beautifully photographed by José Luis Alcaine with the Spanish town of Almeria standing in for the Wild West. Pascal and Hawke generate a palpable chemistry - Jake is gruff and taciturn, Silva mischievous and soulful - as well a keen sense of shared history. That it feels slight is due to the thirty-minute running time as opposed to script shortcomings, so it feels a shame that this wasn’t developed into a full feature. Nevertheless it’s an emotionally rewarding half hour and the climactic exchange between the two men is very moving.
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