Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

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  • Summary: Son Hayes never speaks of the scars on his back. The shotgun pellets left under his skin make for a sporadic pattern of blue-black dots. The men he works with take bets on how he got them. His brothers, Boy and Kid Hayes, don't discuss it. His past, just like the scars, is never far behind him. This stands true for the memory of his father, a man who never bothered to give his children proper names. He left the three brothers, Son, Boy, and Kid, when they were young. Their last impressions of him were of a violent drunk who never hesitated to put his own needs ahead of his family's. The brothers were left to be raised by their mother, a hateful woman who to this day blames her children for the life she's been left with and the loss of the man she couldn't keep. Their father, having left the memory of his children as completely as he left their home, managed to move on and put his life back together. He sobered up, became a devout Christian, married a wonderful woman, and fathered four new sons--all of whom received proper names. His life became a model that most would aspire to--a man successful in business, community, and family--with his only true failing being the sons he turned his back on. (Liberation Entertainment) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. 100
    Here is a tense and sorrowful film where common sense struggles with blood lust.
  2. An allegory of our times, Shotgun Stories is a tragedy of biblical scale and an intimate family drama. Unlike the more lauded films of last year, which glorified a national preoccupation with bloody deeds, Shotgun Stories is a passionate cry to end the violence and a reminder that we, as free individuals, have the power to determine our own destinies.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Ordona
    An understated gem. Writer-director Jeff Nichols, making his feature debut, has created a richly textured world.
  4. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    It's rare that a picture that deals with as much tragedy as this one also manages to convey as much warmth to its characters.
  5. 75
    The cast deliver consistently fine, subtle performances, underscored by Ben Nichols' mournfully melodic guitar score.
  6. The movie makes you empathize with the rage that drives these young men to violence--but it also makes you see how manly action wipes out their individuality, their uniqueness, and turns them into archetypal meatheads.
  7. Reviewed by: Ross Bennett
    An interesting first effort from Nichols - making him a director to look out for in the future.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 7
  2. Negative: 2 out of 7
  1. AlexP
    May 28, 2008
    From the trailer and title I was expecting some epic gun play flick but what I got instead was some a acted and intense movie dealing with with family, loss, grief, and revenge. How marvelously mislead I was. Expand
  2. JonathanR.
    May 13, 2008
    This is a movie I looked forward to seeing for months. The story moves slowly at times, but it fits the mood of the region and the mood of the characters. Its not an action film with characters hell-bent for vengance, its a movie about weighing options, doing whats right, realizing whats wrong and finding where the breaking point lies. Expand
  3. LarryN.
    Apr 10, 2008
    Moving and startling picture of small-town America, which,of course, is America. This story is sensitively and deftly told by directorJeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon. Expand
  4. Jun 16, 2013
    "Shotgun Stories" is a moody melodrama of Southern rural life smartly observed.
    Jeff Nichols shoots his first feature film, trusting the
    scenery, the faces of his actors creating the atmosphere while he relies on small town, everyday life circumstances for character building. "Shotgun Stories" is a tragedy that unfolds beautifully as an intimate family drama. It serves as a passionate cry to end senseless violence, as well as a stark reminder that we possess the power to determine our own destinies.

    Set against the backdrop of rural Arkansas, "Shotgun Stories" follows an escalating feud between two sets of half-brothers who differ in every way, except for one side of their parental heritage. We are first introduced to Son (Michael Shannon), Boy (Dougls Ligon), and Kid Hayes (Barlow Jacobs), born to a drunken father who didn't have the decency to give his offspring names, and rejected by a mother who was too bitter to care for them. The father decides to abandon his first family to find sobriety, God, and to begin a new life with another family. He fathers four more sons who were given the real names and the upbringing they deserved. The second Hayes family owns a cotton and soybean farm and is comfortably middle class. Son, in contrast, works at a fish hatchery and loses all his money trying to perfect a "system" he thinks can beat the local casino. Kid sleeps in a tent in Son's yard, and Boy lives in a van by the river. When their father dies the sets of brothers are brought together at his funeral, and their previously harbored hostilities erupt and further escalate.

    Nichols makes a point not to show us the actual violence on screen. He often cuts away at the critical moments of a confrontation, and it is Nichols' approach to film making that strips away any glamour associated with the violence while being consistent with his message.

    It should be noted that the pacing here is pretty slow albeit realistically so. Thankfully the performances alone are sufficient to keep this counter-revenge tragedy on track. The performances are uniformly excellent with veteran character actor Michael Shannon as the film's emotional anchor. There is plenty to enjoy in "Shotgun Stories," just don't anticipate all the fireworks.
  5. Jan 23, 2012
    I found the films concept and story to be quite ineresting.However after the opening scenes of the film the film became uninteresting and very boring due to it's lack of anything. The film looses you because you do not feel their dellema nor do you find the tragedys that happen in the film to be very affecting. Ultinately the film is beautifully shot, but it lacked depth and did not tell it's story in an interesting way that involed me. The director of shotgun stories has improved in his writting and directing in his newest film Take Shelter. Expand
  6. Sep 3, 2010
    Nicely shot but quite slow.
    Just found it all a bit dull really & didn't care about the characters.
    I was waiting for stuff to happen & it
    sort of didn't. Expand
  7. KelaM.
    Jul 12, 2008
    I decided to watch this movie after seeing the high ratings but I was throughly disappointed.It was a pain going through the entire movie which often dragged and was marked by some poor acting by the self-conscious actors. Expand