Movie reviews: Shotgun Stories
“Shotgun Stories”, a brilliantly scripted story of two families intertwined in a good old southern drama. The very first feature from director Jeff Nichols gives us a story of Cleaman Hayes (Michael Abbott Jr.), a native of Arkansas who has seven children by two different women, and leaves both families in turmoil.
Cleaman Hayes’ marriage to Nicole (Natalie Canerday), produces three children in which Cleamen shows no interest in even giving the children proper names. Son (Michael Shannon), Kid (Barlow Jacobs) and Boy (Douglas Ligon) are one day left behind by Cleamen in his attempt to clean up and better his life. The family, left behind in the worst case scenario, poor and barely able to make ends meet are in for the surprise of their lives.
After leaving his previous family, Cleamen cleans up his act and opens a business and marries again. This marriage produces four more sons, Cleaman Jr. (Michael Abbott, Jr.), Mark (Travis Smith), Stephen (Lynsee Provence) and John (David Rhodes), all who are raised with names and given the life Cleamen neglected to give to his previous children. The very thought of this causes tensions between the two families of violent hatred amongst all involved.
Cleamen dies and all seven of his children are present for the funeral. Furious with his father’s betrayal, Son spits on Cleamen’s casket and all hell breaks loose with all engaging each other with fists and fury. The battle ensues even after the funeral between the two Hayes Families and rages with violence and hate for each other and begins a bloody war that both side fight to the bitter end.
I was purely amazed by the film from beginning to end. The acting is extraordinary for a relatively no name cast and the director’s first attempt needs to be applauded. If this film is any indication of what we can expect from Jeff Nichols then we are definitely going to be seeing some great stuff from this guy. The film grabs you from beginning to end and traps you into the battle of the century. Excellent plot, great cast and fantastic acting makes this film a A+ film in my standards.
Rating: NR, Parents be advised, the film has strong graphic violence and is not suggested for a younger audience. Strong adult language and strong adult theme.
John Cassavetes Award – Jeff Nichols – 2007 Independent Spirit Award
John Cassavetes Award – David Gordon Green – 2007 Independent Spirit Award
John Cassavetes Award – Lisa Muskat – 2007 Independent Spirit Award