Jeff Nichols’ debut feature is not the frenzied shoot- ’em-up that the film’s title might suggest, but a considered, sensitive drama of feuding families set in Nowheresville, USA. “If I owned this town, I’d sell it,” says one of three brothers so rejected by their father that he only bothered to name them Son, Boy and Kid. When pa dies, the siblings court friction with the properly christened sons of his loving second marriage and the scene is set for an almighty ruck with overtones of Greek tragedy. Filmed against the flat expanses of Middle America, with characters that have difficulty articulating their emotions, Shotgun Stories has understandably drawn comparisons to Terrence Malick, though Nichols never quite harnesses the same poetic force. Even so, this is engrossing and provocative, with a courageously optimistic final act.
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