Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. 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.
  2. 100
    Here is a tense and sorrowful film where common sense struggles with blood lust.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Ordona
    90
    An understated gem. Writer-director Jeff Nichols, making his feature debut, has created a richly textured world.
  4. 83
    Well-plotted, with a strong lead performance by Michael Shannon, and a fair amount of authentic regional flavor. It isn't really meant to be a treatise on Southern life. At heart, it's a country-fried genre film, minus the peppery white gravy.
  5. Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    80
    The film is a here-and-now American potboiler and a stripped-down parable that can be appreciated by any culture.
  6. 75
    The cast deliver consistently fine, subtle performances, underscored by Ben Nichols' mournfully melodic guitar score.
  7. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    75
    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.
  8. An austere rural landscape, festering hatred, class tensions, terse dialogue - these are common currency in indie movies these days. Shotgun Stories uses them all, but manages to stand out from the crowd.
  9. Reviewed by: Maureen M. Hart
    75
    Director Jeff Nichols lets the action unfold slowly following an impromptu insult, but the escalation of hatred and pain feels natural.
  10. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    70
    Thesping is pitch-perfect across the board.
  11. 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.
  12. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    70
    In this tense, lyrical and bone-spare slice-of-death drama by writer-director Jeff Nichols, Shannon gets a role tailored to his lanky Middle American boyishness and the demons peering from behind it.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Katzman
    70
    At the center of the film is a keenly understated performance by Michael Shannon (Bug, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) as the eldest of the cast-off sons.
  14. 63
    Features a riveting performance by Michael Shannon as oldest son Son. He's definitely an actor to watch.
  15. Reviewed by: Ross Bennett
    60
    An interesting first effort from Nichols - making him a director to look out for in the future.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 7
  2. Negative: 2 out of 7
  1. Jun 16, 2013
    8
    "Shotgun Stories" is a moody melodrama of Southern rural life smartly observed.
    Jeff Nichols shoots his first feature film, trusting the
    "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.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 23, 2012
    5
    I found the films concept and story to be quite ineresting.However after the opening scenes of the film the film became uninteresting and veryI 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. Full Review »
  3. Sep 3, 2010
    3
    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
    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.
    Full Review »