Shotgun Stories

Set amid the widescreen cottonfields of south-east Arkansas, ‘Shotgun Stories’ centres on the life-long conflict between two sets of distanced half-brothers born of the same father. Son (Michael Shannon), Boy (Douglas Ligon) and Kid Hayes (Barlow Jacobs) are from his first marriage and we learn through them the hatred they hold for him. When pop dies, the lads turn up at his funeral uninvited: Son spits on the coffin, eyebrows are raised among the new family and old grudges reignited, culminating in a spate of tit-for-tat violence that ends with pacifist Boy buying a gun.

Anyone expecting ‘a high-calibre thriller with more kickback than a 12-gauge’ might be disappointed; Jeff Nichols’ low-budget feature début is more subtle than that. In fact, its anti-violence message – and lack of any actual gunfights – is decidedly refreshing. Divided into chapters by way of annoying two-second fades-to-black, it must be said that the pacing here is pretty slow – albeit realistically so. Thankfully the performances alone are sufficient to keep this counter-revenge tragedy on track. Just don’t anticipate fireworks.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday May 23 2008
Duration: 90 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Barlow Jacobs
Michael Shannon
Natalie Canerday
Douglas Ligon
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