Excellent debut from writer/director Jeff Nichols, who went on to make Take Shelter and Mud. It’s actually many things at once: a thoughtful meditation on the consequences of a deep-seated hatred between two sets of brothers who share a recently-deceased father; a grim slice of life within a rural Arkansas community; a study of the bonds between three brothers; and a showcase for the superb Michael Shannon. More understated in its tone and approach than either of Nichols’ later films, it’s incredibly well-crafted, creating the impression that we’re in the hands of an accomplished expert rather than a newbie who was just 25 when most of this was shot. While Shannon is the stand-out, Douglas Ligon (who has done almost nothing apart from this) is also very good as one of his brothers. As far as I’m concerned this makes it three from three for Nichols; I now regard myself as a devoted fan and am very much looking forward to his next film, a sci-fi chase movie called Midnight Special, due out in 2014.