Shotgun Stories

Posted April 24, 2008 in Film

Big Daddy Hayes has just died and already his legacy on earth is dwindling. His seven sons by two wives can’t agree on him. Stephen, Cleaman, John, and Mark (Lynnsee Provence, Michael Abbott Jr., David Rhodes, and Travis Smith) know him as a born-again farmer. Their older half-brothers Son, Boy, and Kid (Michael Shannon, Douglas Ligon, and Barlow Jacobs) spit on his grave. Son and his siblings think their estranged dad’s younger kids got off easy—they ain’t rich either, but their trucks are shinier. And so these small-town Arkansans who can’t rouse up rent money find the initiative to be hell-bent on destruction. Jeff Nichols modern Western is laconic and lazily captivating, its silence slowly building to rage. Shannon’s blunt face, heavy with gravity, doesn’t do much emoting, but it’s hard to tear your eyes from it and the scarred welts on his back from a shotgun blast that goes unexplained. A lot happens, but it doesn’t feel like it, absorbed as we are in the terse tension. Instead, Nichols casually threads the theme of loyalty into the dark story of the Hayes clan and then pulls it tight into a noose. (Amy Nicholson)



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