While I know summer is here and we are all looking for perhaps lighter fare to watch on a Friday night, I stumbled across a fairly recent release that is haunting but yet not overly dark. “Shotgun Stories”is the tale of two sets of brothers who must decide if they will carry on a longstanding blood fued with each other, or if they will forgive and move on with their individual lives. It’s a movie that lingers but doesn’t bludgeon you with its sometimes unsettling subject matter, which is why this unsung treasure is my DVD pick for this week.
The movie opens in rural Arkansas at the funeral of a man who was an absentee father to three boys he dismissively named Son ,Kid, and Boy. At the funeral these sons collide with the four young men who comprise the second family of the dead man who remember their father as a good Christian man who had changed his ways and had become a community legend. Hate, bitterness, and revenge fester between the two families threatening to destroy all of them bit by bit.
In some ways the style of this film will remind viewers of movies like “Fargo” or maybe even “A Simple Plan” in the way it weaves a tale of escalated violence and revenge that spills over onto many lives until chaos reigns, but in many ways “Shotgun Stories” is a superior film. The violence is shown only fleetingly here, and the choices are more complex
The ending of the movie is also surprisingly more hopeful and redemptive than you might expect, considering the paths the film goes down. And where films like “Fargo” tend to lean more toward a slightly nihilistic view of “God’s not there or God doesn’t care,” I think this movie does embrace a transcendent view of the human spirit in that the brothers realize they cannot change on their own.
So I can’t recommend “Shotgun Stories” as a traditional “feel-good” movie to start the summer season, but I certainly recommend it as a smart, sensitive movie that provides its own kind of moral and inspirational lesson about forgiveness and reconciliation. It might even make you look at those typical family barbeques a little bit differently.