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The themes of revenge and protection are at the heart of "Shotgun Stories," a powerful and tense drama from director Jeff Nichols.  Set in the rural communities of England and Keo, Arkansas, the film follows the intersection of two sets of brothers upon the death of their common father.

At the funeral, Son Hayes (Michael Shannon) and his two brothers Boy (Douglas Ligon) and Kid (Barlow Jacobs) invade the ceremony.  Son offers a terse rebuke of the minister's eulogy and spits on his father's coffin.  What follows is a feud between families, no different than any dark tale from the American West.

Using every aspect of the surrounding landscape, and relying on the dimming light from the setting sun, the film is immaculately shot by William Eggleston.  The farmlands and fish ponds mutter a sad tune as these brothers wage war on each other. 

Michael Shannon recently graced the screen in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," and G. Alan Wilkins, as local drug dealer Shampoo, radiate the film's gentle light. They are guided by a solid script, written by Nichols, that keeps the dialogue simple; to do otherwise would be disingenuous to the film's sense of place.

It's this understanding of place and self that makes "Shotgun Stories" a film to behold and cherish.

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