Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke in a staring loving contest in Strange Way of Life

‘Strange Way of Life’ Review: Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke Bring Heartbreak and Love to the Wild West in Pedro Almodóvar’s Cowboy Epic

3.5/5 cowboy hats

Pedro Almodóvar has said time and time again that Strange Way of Life was to be his answer to Brokeback Mountain—and while it was the love story of Silva (Pedro Pascal) and Jake (Ethan Hawke), the short run-time of the film leaves you wanting more than what you’re given. Maybe that was by design, forcing us to leave the theater wishing we had more time to explore Silva and Jake’s love for each other outside of the 31 minutes of runtime. What it resulted in was what felt like, at times, an ad for Saint-Laurent, who produced the film.

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The story is simple: Silva is reunited with Jake after years apart from each other, the two brought together by a tragedy that Silva was trying to prevent and stop Jake from investigating. When it reunites the former lovers, the two are forced to look back on their time together, and their love is once again examined. The bright and vibrant nature of Almodóvar’s filming style mixed with the raw and real acting technique of both Hawke and Pascal’s performances does leave the film, at times, feeling disjointed.

At its core, there is a love story that deserves to have more time to breathe than the short runtime allows. Only a few brief moments give these characters the chance to explore one another. Hawke and Pascal give Silva and Jake their all, letting us live with them and letting us understand the love that they lost through time and the circumstances of the world they lived in. They let society tell them what they could do and who they could love, and it hurt them both in ways that we see reflected within their reunion.

That all would have hit harder had we just had more time with them.

A less than lived-in love story

Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in 'Strange Way of Life'

There are still so many moments throughout Strange Way of Life that make the short film worth it, despite the film’s runtime working against it. Teetering on a campy tone but not fully committing to it, Strange Way of Life does have its moments that leave you breathless, and it is beautiful in a way that leaves you wanting so much more from it. That feeling, though, does force the audience to ask themselves: Is this because the movie itself is so fleeting, or because of what Almodóvar set out to create with Silva and Jake’s relationship?

Overall, Strange Way of Life is well worth the watch for how both Hawke and Pascal embody the love that Silva and Jake have for each other. Even though they can’t be together and the two of them struggle with accepting their love for each other, we do briefly get to see their excitement and the new feelings they have for one another in a flashback scene. That glimpse is short-lived, however, and once again reminds us of what this could have been had we been given more time—which also works as a reminder of their love as a whole. So while the runtime works against Strange Way of Life, it still sticks with you and will keep you wanting more.

(featured image: Sony Pictures Classic)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.