Shotgun StoriesFeature Film |
A slow-burning family revenge drama.
One great thing about Jeff Nichols' stunning second feature, Take Shelter, is that it brought some additional attention to his sharp debut, Shotgun Stories. The earlier film also features a tense, measured performance from Michael Shannon, who plays Son Hayes, an Arkansas fish-farm worker with daddy issues. Son's father was apparently uninterested enough in his offspring to name his first three children Son, Boy (Douglas Ligon), and Kid (Barlow Jacobs), before abandoning them and their mother. Dad (who never appears onscreen) then cleaned up, found religion, and started a new family, creating a bitter rivalry between the two clans. That conflict comes to a head when Son makes a scene at the man's funeral. Kid is a hothead, while Boy is a gentler soul, content to hang out in his broken-down van with his dog. Tensions build slowly, and, eventually, violence erupts. Nichols' laconic writing and widescreen images deftly capture the pace of small-town life. His title encapsulates the way rumor can spread maliciously in a tight-knit community, while the flat landscape gives a sense of emptiness waiting to be filled. Shannon delivers a restrained performance, Son's anger and resentment simmering under the surface. Glenda Pannell, as Son's wife, Annie, is a standout, bringing a refreshing sensitivity as the film's only significant female presence. Shotgun Stories is a remarkably controlled and effective debut.
|Shotgun Stories Trailer|