“Shotgun Stories is a movie that I will recommend until I am blue in the face because it is that good.”
In order to prepare myself to see Midnight Special, I decided to go back and watch all of Jeff Nichols’ movies. For those who don’t know, Jeff Nichols is the fantastic writer/director of the movies Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud. Now originally, when I was younger, I had heard of the movie Take Shelter and it looked pretty good. Unfortunately I never did get to see it and it eventually left my mind. Fast forward to December 2012 and a movie came into theatres called Mud, and I heard nothing but good things about it. When the blu ray for Mud came out, I bought it, and then a little while later I stumbled upon Take Shelter on Netflix. This is a really roundabout way to tell you that I watched Take Shelter and loved it, so I looked up the director and found out that Mud was also one of his movies. I instantly put Mud into my blu ray player and fell in love. Now on his IMDB page there was only one other movie listed, and that was Shotgun Stories. I figured that since I loved his other two movies I would give Shotgun Stories a try. Shotgun Stories is a movie about two feuding families, and really its about people acting out of passion and pride. In Shotgun Stories, you see that the men involved let pride get the better of them and their animalistic side takes over. It truly is a great movie and I suggest everyone go and watch it.
What I love about Shotgun Stories is how simple the movie is. It really accentuates how effective Jeff Nichols’ writing and directing is, because there is no flair to help disguise it. What you see is what you get, and what you get is a beautiful story about protecting your family, and ultimately the folly of all parties involved. I’m not going to spoil this movie, because again I want everyone to see it, but I will say that every single character (except for maybe one) is redeemable in the sense that I can understand why they chose to take specific actions. That’s another thing that I love about this movie, it is a movie about really normal guys, thrust into this ultimately shitty situation. Is everyone involved in the situation a saint? Absolutely not, but it can definitely be argued that they were not the ones who provoked the situation, but unfortunately they have to pay the price. The acting in Shotgun Stories is also really great. I grew up in Canada (and the movie takes place in Arkansas), but it is crazy how similar people act in similar environments. I live in a city, but if I take a 30 minute drive I can find myself in a place that looks, feels, and acts exactly like the setting for Shotgun Stories. A lot of that comes from the writing, but it is brought to life by the actors. On one side of the rivalry you have characters who have always had to defend each other, so they are ready for a fight if someone even speaks about another one of them. And on the other side you have men who were always cared for, and they will do anything to protect the people who cared for them. Ultimately what you get when they meet, is two groups who do not see eye to eye in the slightest, and the acting really conveys that. Hell, even when it is just the two groups separately, the way everyone acts in either group is wonderful. To see the relationships, especially of the main characters, is crazy because I know people who act like that. It is like a window rather than a movie, and that is because of the fantastic writing and acting. The score used in Shotgun Stories is also fantastic. It is only one or two songs, but the way they are used, and when they are not used really shows an understanding for the movie and what it was trying to accomplish. It is also another testament to how barebones this movie is, but that is only to its benefit. The camerawork also echoes this point with all of the shots being very effective, but not too over the top. One thing about this movie, actually about all of Jeff Nichols’ movies, is it feels very slow. I assume that has to do with pacing, because even for a movie that was 90 minutes it felt like I was watching it for 4 hours. This is going to be hard to understand but I don’t think that is a bad thing. Usually when movies feel longer than they are I dislike them for it, but it feels almost fitting for the films of Jeff Nichols. I think it might be because it makes me feel like I am there with the characters. Instead of getting a cliff notes version of their lives, I’m there for the entirety of the story. And that works to the advantage of the movie for me in a weird way. I know that not everyone will feel the same way but even though it felt like the movie was really long, I wasn’t bored for one second.
Shotgun Stories is a movie that I will recommend until I am blue in the face because it is that good. Jeff Nichols does something very special with this movie and creates a very real, very gut-wrenching story.
I give Shotgun Stories an A