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.
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The cinematic story of Jeff Nichols begins with blood and fury - though it is not blood spilled, but rather the deep blood ties that can turn one family against another. If "Stories" has a central flaw, it's that Nichols utilizes scene after scene to build an incredible pressure that is never actually relieved by a climactic action in the film. Still, there's no denying the power of Michael Shannon's performance.
Michael Shannon never disappoints, he is electrifying. What I really loved about this film is that felt like it had a very good understanding of the South, in a nonjudgemental way. The attention to detail is incredible. A very slow burn film, but an effective one indeed. The relationship between the brothers was moving and the view of violence was serious. A very humanistic experience. Nichols is definitely a talent.
A thoroughly entrancing film about the love and unbreakable bonds of blood, as well as the inexplicable violence and hatred towards anything that threatens it. What is particularly beautiful about this film is that the kindred characters are on both sides of the fence - half brothers pitted against one another. It's a slow-burning Southern Gothic blood feud and it is, quite simply, masterful.
3.6. The shotgun, while instrumental, is also incidental. As in Mud, the real draw here is Nichols' deceptively casual, laconically insightful depiction of a very particular, currently somewhat notorious sector of American culture, as realized via the director's fond but not uncritical focus on a set of deftly realized characters, who, bemused, eccentric, doomed by degrees, are never reducible to stereotypes.
Jeff Nichols' feature debut is a beautifully shot film about the consequences and cycle of violence, with memorable performances, judicious editing and great use of music. Looking back now, one of the greatest pleasures is seeing the potential Nichols has promised here being fully realised in later works like Take Shelter and Midnight Special, as well as the influence the film has had on works such as Blue Ruin.