Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cannes: Pedro Almodovar’s “Strange Way of Life” is the 30 Minute Sequel to “Brokeback Mountain” with Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal as Wild West Lovers


Some people may have wanted a sequel to “Brokeback Mountain.” I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean anything.

Pedro Almodovar obviously did, and the fashion house of Saint Laurent paid for it. “Strange Way of Living” had one screening today in Cannes. It runs about 30 minutes. I’m told it will probably be packaged for theatrical release with Almodovar’s classic, “Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

The story: in the Wild West, Ethan Hawke, with a Colonel Sanders goatee, is the sheriff in town. He finds out that his late brother’s wife has been murdered. The culprit turns to be the male model looking son of Hawke’s old cowboy lover, played by Pedro Pascal. The latter arrives to head off his son’s arrest, and he and Ethan rekindle their flame after 25 years apart.

The drama comes when the son is caught by Ethan, who has to decide if he’s going to kill his liver’s child. There’s a three way shootout. I won’t tell you what happens. But it’s all slightly preposterous.

So, too, is the music, which swells up as if it’s part of a Spanish soap opera. The opening credits seem like a Quentin Tarantino movie. But of course, Almodovar directs with his own iconic imprint, and the cinematography is lush. The clothes are more Ralph Lauren than Saint Laurent, but boutique tie-ins seem inevitable.

When the movie opens, a good looking young man is singing a Spanish song. This is supposed to be the rough and tumble West, but this guy has straight gleaming white teeth and good cheek bones. Before the film played, Almodovar appeared on stage with Hawke and a bunch of male models who have parts in the movies. Combined, their teeth could light up Chicago. Who knew there was such good dentistry in the 1870s, in mining towns?

A panel discussion took place after the film screened. Two French women I don’t know flanked Ethan and Pedro. The women talked as if they were giving a college lecture. I didn’t know what they were saying but several times I heard the words, “Brokeback Mountain.” Anyone who thinks this little short is anything but a riff on that Oscar nominated movie has had too much tequila. I don’t know why it was made. And I don’t think Saint Laurent fashion house should be producing movies.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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