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Almodóvar's, Strange Way of Life, a love story set in the heart of the desert

Pedro Almodóvar, the acclaimed Spanish auteur, has yet again demonstrated his mastery of storytelling with his latest English-language short film, Strange Way of Life. The 31-minute film marks Almodóvar's second English venture after The Human Voice in 2020. More importantly, it is a groundbreaking narrative that breathes new life into the traditional Western genre, replacing its typical machismo with a nuanced exploration of queer love and desire​.

At the heart of the film are the characters Jake and Silva, portrayed by Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, respectively. Silva, a charismatic cowboy, journeys across the desert to the remote western town of Bitter Creek to reconnect with his old friend Jake, the town's sheriff. Their reunion, however, is far from an ordinary gathering of old friends. The two men have not seen each other for 25 years, and their reunion reignites an intense, suppressed affection that they have carried for each other over the years​.

This affection culminates in a passionate encounter, marking a significant departure from traditional Western narratives. In Strange Way of Life, Almodóvar employs the classic elements of the Western genre - the desert setting, the cowboy, the sheriff - to tell a distinctly queer love story. The director himself has described the film as a "queer Western," emphasizing its exploration of masculinity through the lens of a same-sex relationship​.

However, their moment of intimacy is short-lived and tainted by the complexities of their situation. Jake is on the trail of Silva's son, a suspected murderer, and his commitment to justice leads to a tense standoff that threatens their shared history and newly reignited relationship.

Filmed in Southern Spain's Tabernas Desert, Strange Way of Life is as visually stunning as it is groundbreaking. The film's title pays homage to an old Portuguese fado song by Amália Rodrigues, and the production was a collaboration between Almodóvar's own company, El Deseo, and Yves Saint Laurent, whose head designer Anthony Vaccarello served as an associate producer and costume designer​.

Strange Way of Life premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2023, before being released in Spain on May 26, 2023. It is set to be distributed in various international markets, including Italy, Latin America and the United Kingdom​


Critical reception has been largely positive, with the film receiving a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It has been praised for its innovative reinterpretation of the Western genre, its exploration of queer love, and its complex portrayal of masculinity and power dynamics. The film's delicate treatment of a same-sex relationship, intertwined with the classic Western narrative, has left a lasting impression on audiences and critics alike

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