Sunday, March 30, 2008
The opening night film of this year's San Francisco IndieFest, a dramatic tale of family feud, "Shotgun Stories" (USA 2007, 92 min.) will open in Bay area theaters on April 4.
Set in Arkansas, the film begins with the death of Mr. Hayes who fathered two sets of half brothers. Hayes abandoned the first three brothers who he even didn't bother to give them proper names other than Son, Boy, and Kid. Then Mr. Hayes became a devoted Christian, married a new wife, and fathered four more brothers. Now they are all grown up, the feud between the two sets of half brother gets deeper, and is escalated after Son Hayes's spitting on Mr. Hayes's coffin at the funeral.
The story is told mostly from the perspective of Son, Boy, and Kid. All of them seem forever damaged and holding back the rage living off a country road with a backdrop of cotton fields. Son deals with his gambling problem; Kid lives in a tent in Son's backyard; Boy lives in a van down by the river. All of them have lifeless sad low voices. They don't seem have any hope of the future and just get by day after day, sitting in the front porch drinking beer while watching the cars passing by on the road. The only thing can get them up and running is to take revenge to the other sets of brothers.
It's utterly depressing watching the story unfold.
While the film is very effective telling a harsh story about "rednecks" (they have to be rednecks when they cool themselves on a picnic table in the backyard using an air-conditioning found in the trash), it does little to invoke any sympathy from the audience. I think the typical reaction to the story would be like: "Yup! They are miserable."
Surely they are.