Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
In this tightly-wound, perceptive film, a young farm boy kills his older brother when a shotgun accidentally goes off then retreats into a shell of silence as his family seems to react against him. Arnold (Jason Presson) and his brother get up at the crack of dawn to go duck hunting, but their happy plans take a tragic turn when Arnold's shotgun gets caught in a barbed wire fence and accidentally goes off, killing his older brother. Arnold is in shock, he sits by his brother's side, he irrationally wanders in a pea patch, slowly picking the vegetables. When he finally goes home and manages to articulate what happened, his parents ignore him in their own grief. His father Joe (Robert Duvall) thinks Arnold does not have a clue about what he did because he just stands there, not speaking or communicating anything at all -- like a stone. Arnold's mother may not understand his behavior -- this is a Montana farming couple, not a pair of psychologists -- but she is not as judgmental as her husband. The family's grief causes some aberrant behavior, making the life of Arnold's next-door Aunt Lu miserable (her philandering husband is taking off after the dead boy's girlfriend), and Arnold senses a kindred spirit in the woman. But his grandfather is the only one who understands that the family should not mistreat Arnold, that he is suffering so intensely he simply cannot express it. When Arnold runs away, escaping to the city of Reno, there is some hope that the boy will find a much-needed emotional release.
accident, brother, death-in-family, extramarital-affair, family, family-tragedy, grief, shoot-out