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 ...
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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
"Shotgun Stories" is a moody melodrama of Southern rural life smartly observed.
"Shotgun Stories" is a moody melodrama of Southern rural life smartly observed. Jeff Nichols shoots his first feature film, trusting the scenery, the faces of his actors creating the atmosphere while he relies on small town, everyday life circumstances for character building. "Shotgun Stories" is a tragedy that unfolds beautifully as an intimate family drama. It serves as a passionate cry to end senseless violence, as well as a stark reminder that we possess the power to determine our own destinies.
Set against the backdrop of rural Arkansas, "Shotgun Stories" follows an escalating feud between two sets of half-brothers who differ in every way, except for one side of their parental heritage. We are first introduced to Son (Michael Shannon), Boy (Dougls Ligon), and Kid Hayes (Barlow Jacobs), born to a drunken father who didn't have the decency to give his offspring names, and rejected by a mother who was too bitter to care for them. The father decides to abandon his first family to find sobriety, God, and to begin a new life with another family. He fathers four more sons who were given the real names and the upbringing they deserved. The second Hayes family owns a cotton and soybean farm and is comfortably middle class. Son, in contrast, works at a fish hatchery and loses all his money trying to perfect a "system" he thinks can beat the local casino. Kid sleeps in a tent in Son's yard, and Boy lives in a van by the river. When their father dies the sets of brothers are brought together at his funeral, and their previously harbored hostilities erupt and further escalate.
Nichols makes a point not to show us the actual violence on screen. He often cuts away at the critical moments of a confrontation, and it is Nichols' approach to film making that strips away any glamour associated with the violence while being consistent with his message.
It should be noted that the pacing here is pretty slow – albeit realistically so. Thankfully the performances alone are sufficient to keep this counter-revenge tragedy on track. The performances are uniformly excellent with veteran character actor Michael Shannon as the film's emotional anchor. There is plenty to enjoy in "Shotgun Stories," just don't anticipate all the fireworks.
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