Back in 2020, Pedro Almodóvar shared his first short film in the English language, a Tilda Swinton-starring adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice. Now, the 72-year-old Spanish filmmaker has announced a new English-language short titled Strange Way of Life, billing it as his answer to Brokeback Mountain (the 2005 film he declined to direct before Ang Lee took it on to win several Oscars).
Taking its title from a “very sad” Portuguese fado song by Amalia Rodrigues, the 30-minute Strange Way of Life (or Extraña forma de vida) will centre around a pair of middle-aged gunslingers who haven’t seen each other in 25 years. After one travels through the desert to find the other, there will be a “showdown” and – though Almodóvar is keeping specifics under wraps – it’s safe to say that we’ll see at least a smattering of sepia-toned cowboy romance. (Tie me up! Tie me down! With a lasso! Etc.)
Ethan Hawke (The Northman) and Pedro Pascal are set to take on the roles of a sheriff named Jake and a hired gun named Silva, respectively, alongside Spanish actors including Manu Ríos and Sara Sálamo. Costume design and production will be done by Saint Laurent.
In-keeping with a longstanding Western tradition, a majority of the action will be shot in the desert of Almería, southern Spain – more specifically, in the town where Sergio Leone famously filmed The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. “I’m not consciously referencing those movies,” Almodóvar clarifies, in an interview with IndieWire, adding of his film: “I don’t know what it will be like, except that it will be mine.”
Almodóvar’s most recent feature film, the Penélope Cruz-starring Parallel Mothers, was released in 2021. His next full-length production (and his first in English) was announced earlier this year, casting Cate Blanchett as the lead in an adaptation of the Lucia Berlin short story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women.