Shotgun Stories tracks a feud that erupts between two sets of half brothers following the death of their father. Set against the cotton fields and back roads of Southeast Arkansas, these ... See full summary »
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Shotgun Stories tracks a feud that erupts between two sets of half brothers following the death of their father. Set against the cotton fields and back roads of Southeast Arkansas, these brothers discover the lengths to which each will go to protect their family. Written by
Southern American culture is rich in storytelling tradition and part of that is the story of the blood feud. But Shotgun Stories is not about those ancient yokels, the Hatfields and the McCoys, but contemporary families in rural Arkansas.
One father, two wives. Two sets of sons. With first wife, father was an alcoholic ne'er to do well who abused his wife. The boys by this wife are poor. He cleaned up his act when he ran off with this second wife and became a farmer. The sons by this wife are middle class. The sets of sons hate each other.
The father dies. At his funeral, his first set of sons shows up, brazenly unkempt to spite the well-dressed second set of sons. The oldest makes a speech condemning the father for abandoning them, then spits on the casket. A fist fight breaks out. Vengeance is sworn.
And so the movie begins. And blood is shed.
The information above about family history does not emerge all at once. Bits are doled out as we get to know the Hayes family, the sons, their wives and girlfriends, friends (some, like Shampoo, disreputable) and their children. An often unmoving camera fixes on the details on these young men's lives, especially the older ones, Son, Kid and Boy (Yes, that's their names).
Just about everybody in the movie has known each other since childhood.
This is not a fast-paced movie, but the tension builds to almost unbearable levels as retribution leads to worse retribution. Interestingly, the most serious violence occurs off camera.
Eventually, a peacemaker emerges in a most unlikely (but maybe not) persona.
Shotgun Stories is the kind of movie film festival goers adore. Low budget. Unknown actors. Local color. Rich dialogue. Evocative cinematography.
If that's not your bag, stay away. But if it intrigues you, check this out.
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