CANNES, FRANCE: John Wayne, move aside. While the legendary cowboy will remain exactly that, you’ve never seen a dusty, lusty Western as well dressed as this one. Potent combo Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke star as two former lovers who haven’t seen one another in 25 years in Pedro Almodóvar’s Strange Way Of Life (Extraña Forma de Vida). Commissioned by Saint Laurent Productions, it’s a 30-minute short film which packs an emotional punch at every smouldering turn, so much so, you’ll wish it was a feature-length offering.
Hawke plays a sheriff named Jake, and Pascal a handsome cowboy named Silva who rides into town one day to visit his past love, his red and cream flannelette shirt flapping in the wind. The pair have dinner together—of which Jake breaks his alcohol ban—and the chemistry between them is palpable. On this night, it’s just like the good old days when the pair had a two-month romance in Mexico. The next morning, as Silva borrows a pair of Jake’s underwear, Jake is cold and regretful.
The latter is under pressure to make an arrest for the murder of his brother’s late widow—and Silva’s son Joe (played by model George Steane) is the prime suspect. Silva—who had earlier spun the line that he was town to visit a doctor about his bad back—is actually visiting Jake on Joe’s behalf. Cue: a test of loyalties. And when it’s the Wild West, you can bet all three players are gunslingers.
Whele critics have a few things to say about Strange Way Of Life—namely that its actors serve as clothes horses for Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello—GRAZIA readers will really enjoy the vivid splashes of colour (check Pascal in a green shirt). While we have a soft spot for Vaccarello’s runways, it’s Almodóvar’s ability to capture intense emotions in 30 minutes that is truly impressive, even more so when the heated interplay is played out by Pascal and Hawke. Four stars.
(The Kering-owned company is billing itself as the first to set up a registered subsidiary to produce films, rather than merely funding them, or dressing its cast. Saint Laurent Productions also premiered a Jean-Luc Godard short at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.)