Shotgun Stories - DVD Review

'[moves] at a pace that, while similar to toe-nail growth, is perfectly patient in its crafting of small minuets of violence and confrontation'

I don't often do this with film reviews but at the bottom of this one is the trailer for Shotgun Stories. Go and watch it. Go on... shoo. Come back when you're done.

Finished? Impressive wasn't it? I'd say it's probably one of the better trailers I've watched recently, possibly ever. Just yesterday I was completing a survey about movie watching habits over at Final Cut and I selected that trailers don't impact whether I watch a film or not. Reviews; yes, blogger buzz and hype; yes, directors; sometimes, but normally the trailer watching only takes place after I've become interested and engaged in a film by other means. This time however, the trailer sold it to me.

In it you get the general gist of the story. A father has died, leaving behind three sons he had with one wife and four sons he had with another. The first group of sons didn't care for him while the second group obviously did. A feud erupts and, led by the eldest of the disgruntled group (Michael Shannon) the two sides try to diffuse it by various methods; violent and none-violent.

More than that, the trailer also successfully captures the mood of the film. It is slow and drawn out, moving at a pace that, while similar to toe-nail growth, is perfectly patient in its crafting of small minuets of violence and confrontation. Shannon, as father figure to the remaining two siblings is captivating and his intense portrayal of Son Hayes is impossible to look away from. You don't necessarily always support his actions but you can't help but feel a loyalty towards him, similar to the one that his dependant siblings obviously share.

Unlike the trailer however, the film is not perfect. Director Jeff Nichols' patience can sometimes be frustrating and the film has more than its fair share of abstract landscape shots and people waiting for something to happen in what is admittedly, quiet town America. Some of the narrative elements too are clunky in the extreme, one particular character only showing up to tell various meaningful characters something important, before disappearing off, only to be seen again when the next plot point is due (credit to the missus for spotting this).

If Nichols had managed to pull a neat and sharp, perhaps jarring conclusion out of the bag then it could of elevated the film to near classic but for me it meanders to an ambiguous and unsatisfying end rather than a definitive blast.

Look further...

The fantastic trailer for Shotgun Stories:

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