All the drama around Pedro Almodóvar’s gay Western Cannes short starring Pedro Pascal
It’s the second full day of screening at Cannes, and the drama of the prestigious film festival isn’t letting up.
On Wednesday, all anyone could talk about was Maïwenn’s Johnny Depp-starring period drama Jeanne du Barry, which opened the festival. Today much of the chatter has turned to Pedro Almodóvar’s latest offering, a thirty minute gay Western, Strange Way of Life, which was streamed at the French Riviera during the afternoon.
The film had whipped up a lot of buzz even before its premiere in the Special Screening slot in Cannes, partly because it stars Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke and partly because it’s 73-year-old Almodóvar’s first major film project since 2021’s Penélope Cruz-starring film Parallel Mothers.
Chaos soon broke out outside the screening at the Palais de Festivals, as people without tickets were let in ahead of ticketholders. Almodóvar fans had been so keen to see the film that its long entry queue stretched right around the corner, and down the streets surrounding the venue.
The screening was also delayed, after Steve McQueen’s Occupied City ran over its allotted time. Amid both this and the queuing mix-up, the cinema doors were then closed at 15.30, with all remaining people in the queue – whether they had tickets are not – turned away. This meant that quite a few critics were not able to see the film.
STRANGE WAY OF LIFE, indeed. Nearly an hour queuing for Almodóvar in pouring rain, only to be among hundreds turned away at gate. With tickets. Quand même, #Cannes2023
— Jonathan Romney (@JonathanRomney) May 17, 2023
Still, journalists that were able to get into the screening in the first place were impressed. The Hollywood Reported called Strange Way of Life “intoxicating”, saying, “the potent combination of two gifted lead actors and a director who’s among the world’s best will make this a must-see curio for many.”
The Guardian said, “I can imagine Strange Way of Life being enlarged into a full-length feature, but that might well dilute the impact of these variously tense and poignant scenes between the two men.”
Meanwhile The Telegraph said, “Pedro Almodóvar’s gay Western brings raunchy arthouse fun to Cannes.”
Strange Way of Life, which Almodóvar has written as well as directed, stars Pascal and Hawke as Silva and Sheriff Jake: two former gunslingers in the Wild West who used to work together decades ago. Silva rides across the desert to see Jake, but it becomes clear that the meeting is not just a friendly get together.
While introducing the film at the screening Almodóvar described his cast, which also stars José Condessa and Jason Fernández as a young Silva and Jake, as “very good-looking, but also very good actors”.
And, excitingly for Almodóvar fans, the Spanish director already has another film in the work. Speaking to Spanish-language newspaper EL PAÍS this week, Almodóvar said he is currently in the process of making his first ever English-language feature film (he released an English-language short, The Human Voice, in 2020).
“I’m preparing my new film, but at a moderate pace. We’ve planned to shoot three weeks of exterior shots in New York in October and the interiors in Spain, when there are very few usable daylight hours,” he said. “I already have the locations set, although my problem is that the two leading actresses are very busy. Neither of them are available before August; if it were up to me, we’d already be filming.”