Shotgun Stories

By Roger Ebert - at Cannes International Film Festival 2007

“Shotgun Stories.” For me, the great discovery of this year’s festival. A first feature by writer-director Jeff Nichols, it creates implacable tension between two sets of half-brothers in rural Arkansas. Three brothers, who live together, are the product of a marriage by an alcoholic father who deserted them, and a mother who should have. Their parents couldn’t even be bothered to name them, and they are Son, Kid and Boy. After the father sobered up and became successful, he fathered four more children. The tone of the movie is set in laconic early dialog. Son (Michael Shannon) is called to the door by his mother’s visit. He doesn’t invite her in. “What is it?” he asks. “I came to tell you your father is dead.” No reaction. “When’s the funeral?” he asks. “You can find out in the newspaper,” she says, leaving. “You going?” he asks. “No.” The funeral leads to a feud between the two families, in a film that never steps wrong and holds us in a vise of tightening revenge. Co-produced by David Gordon Green, a hard, unforgiving look at unhappy lives; the characters are not vicious or psychotic, are actually fairly nice left to themselves, but powerless in the face of childhood wounds.

The Band's Visit - dark green room

The Band's Visit