Arts & Entertainment

Almodovar’s gay Western dazzles at Cannes Festival

By Alicia García de Francisco

Cannes, France, May 17 (EFE).- Pedro Almodóvar’s latest release, a short film featuring star of the moment Pedro Pascal and veteran Ethan Hawke was screened on Wednesday at Cannes Film Festival amid rapturous applause.

Strange Way of Life explores the romantic relationship between two cowboys with Almodóvar’s trademark auteur style.

Almodóvar presented the gay Western short, out of competition, alongside Hawke but without Pascal, who was filming the Gladiator sequel.

The film came about after Anthony Vacarello, creative director at Yves Saint Laurent and producer of the movie, pitched the idea to the Spanish movie maker after showing up at the hotel in Los Angeles where Almodóvar was staying.

During the encounter Almodóvar “immediately thought about” a short story he had written which was “the dialogue between two cowboys after having a crazy night”.

The short story was saved on Almodóvar’s computer, something he often does with material he writes that doesn’t make it into his feature films.

After accepting Vaccarello’s request, Almodóvar returned to Spain and wrote “what happened before that night and after”.

He decided to write the short as a Western as it seemed “much more interesting for men to speak of their desire, in a genre that had never touched on that, and being an absolutely

masculine genre,” he tells Efe.

Almodóvar cast Pascal and Hawke because they were physically and culturally opposed, something that was good for the film, he says.

“I called them and luckily they both immediately said yes. I just had to wait a few months for Pascal to finish shooting The Last of Us, then he came over (to Spain).”

Almodóvar highlights his good relationship with both actors, whom he knew before shooting began.

He had met Hawke while he was performing in a Madrid theater and they became friends during the actor’s stint in the Spanish capital.

Almodóvar also met Pascal on stage while the Chilean-American actor was performing alongside Glenda Jackson in King Lear in his Broadway debut.

Although comparisons between Strange Way of Life and Brokeback Mountain have inevitably emerged, the Spaniard says the movies are very different.

Ang Lee’s cult movie, which Almodóvar describes as “an exception within the cinema that has emerged from Hollywood,” hones in on the relationship of two shepherds rather than cowboys, he says.

The length and the narrative that unfolds is also very different, Almodóvar adds.

Almodóvar decided to shoot the film in English to honor the American Western and because the director wanted to get some practice with a short before filming his first feature film in English.

“Both shorts,” he says of XXX and Strange Way of Life, “aside from being indulgent treats that gave me great pleasure and freedom, were also rehearsals to see how I maneuvered in the (English) language.”

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