"Shotgun Stories" is an excellent little film portraying the dead
end existence of two feuding families living in a small town and how
they resort to violence to make sense of it all. The basic plot
deals with how two groups of brothers with a shared father but
different mothers have been raised to hate each other. Those that
were abandoned by the patriarch grew up listening to stories about
his alcoholic demeanor and how he abandoned them and their mother.
The resentment reaches a crescendo when the father dies and both
clans of brothers meet at the funeral, escalating into an
increasingly bloodier fight. While the film is not particularly
graphic and the director seems to have chosen a deliberately
detached point of view to narrate the story – simply relaying the
events as they unfold and with almost no soundtrack music– he is a
master at capturing the details that flesh out real characters and
make the story even more brutal.
I thought the film was an excellent portrayal of the same small
towns that certain politicians love to idealize as beacons of solid
moral values and Hallmark card lifestyles. In a way, it is the
perfect complement to a nonfiction book I read recently called "Deer
Hunting With Jesus" by Joe Bageant, which also deals with the darker
side of small town life in America. The characters in "Shotgun
Stories" also reminded me of those in Scott Wolven's short story
collection "Controlled Burn," the best fiction book I've read so far
this year (second place goes to David Zeltzerman's "Small Crimes"
which coincidentally enough also touches on the "small town hell"
--- In email@example.com, "Jim Beaver" <jumblejim@...>
> Steve Brewer wrote:
> Gonzalo mentioned "Shotgun Stories," which I just watched via
> It's a noirish tale about a blood feud between two branches of a
> family in southeast Arkansas. I found it to be very well done, and
> interested in hearing what Gonzalo and others think of this low-
> I will
> say that its portrayal of life in the Mississippi Delta country is
> right. I grew up not far from there, and "Shotgun Stories" is a
> of why I left.
> Coincidentally, I watched this last night! I concur with Steve's
> (though the story takes place less than 30 miles outside Little
> really in the Mississippi Delta).
> It's certainly noirish in the sense of "screwed", at least for
most of the
> film. It's really sort of Greek tragedy for the repressed,
> redneck set. The writer-director states in the commentary that he
> a very hopeful ending, so it's not noir in that sense. It's one
of the best
> films I've seen for capturing a certain kind of people who inhabit
> south. And the director (Jeff Nichols) avoids virtually every
> to be too on-the-nose or to talk down to his audience.
> Jim Beaver
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