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Movie Reviews: Biopics

Updated on July 7, 2020
"You kinda looked like her...which is creepy."
"You kinda looked like her...which is creepy."

SHIRLEY (2020)

Director: Josephine Decker
Cast: Elizabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman
Plot: A young couple comes to live in the house of horror writer Shirley Jackson and becomes muse for her next novel.
Mood: It plays like a Shirley Jackson story with that malevolent air. Like you were invited to a party you didn’t meant to go to but in the middle you start enjoying it.
Tags: Literary husband and wife, The 50s, Fictional story of a Non-Fictional Setting

Shirley Jackson wrote The Haunting of Hill House which was adapted into a movie The Haunting (1963) directed by Robert Wise just 4 years after the publication of the novel. It stands as one of the scariest and influential works of literature. Now comes a movie about Jackson, and the notoriety of her books and enigmatic personality follow her. Directed by Josephine Decker based on the novel by Susan Scarf Merrell and written for the screen by Sarah Gubbins, this woman-powered movie stars the talented Elizabeth Moss in the titular role and details the making of the author’s novel Hangsaman. A young couple is invited by college professor Stanley Hyman, Jackson’s husband, to stay in their house as an act of goodwill and for the pregnant wife to accompany his recluse wife. Soon, the two women bond together and in the midst of their friendship, a novel gets written. The movie is propelled by Moss’ performance and heightens the drama as it borders between what’s real and what’s not.

The Verdict: 8/10. Starts really well as you get to know who is who, kind of slows down in the middle, then punctuates with a Shirley Jackson-worthy ending. But, Moss is the real deal here. 2 movies per year, multiple TV appearances over the last ten years makes her one of the hardest working actresses today. But it’s the roles that she play that separates her from the rest. This year alone she made two of her finest performances, this and The Invisible Man.


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