Shirley, a biopic on a real life Horror Master


‘Shirley’ is directed by Katherine Decker and it casts Elizabeth Moss, Odessa Young, MIchael Stuhlbarg and Logan Lerman. I haven’t seen a lot of Katherine Decker’s work. From what I have heard is that her films are centered around one character, are dense with ideas and subtextual screams. Her films are dark, gruel and difficult to watch. One might miss the whole point of the film or simply fail to understand it if they are not fully concentrated while watching the film. ‘Shirley’ is a biopic based on the late writer, Shirley Jackson. However, the movie isn’t actually based on her life. It’s based on more of a period in her life.When she writes, ‘Hangsaman’.
During this time, Shirley and her husband take in a newly wedded couple to live them.

This young couple was Rose(Odessa Young) and Fred(Logan Lerman).
Shirley is not a normal character, she is isolated. She never likes to go out of her house, she hates that. She says random things to Rose and Fred on the dinner table which mostly hurts them.

It is uncomfortable for them to live with her. Her husband, Stanley (Michael Stuhlberg) is an ego maniac philandering professor. He criticises Shirley for her work and she never likes that. He is having an open relationship with another woman and that is something that always hurts Shirley. Fred is his would be protege. Stanley calls his work mediocre and ‘derivative’. Rose has her own ambitions but due to her pregnancy, she never acts on them and adjusts to her married ‘house wife’ life. She doesn’t like this at all. Rose through out the film spends a lot of time with Shirley, she gets obsessed with her. Shirley’s influence on Rose makes her more like her slowly and gradually. They both can relate to each other on a deeper level. They are both basically repressing sexism through out the movie.

The direction of this movie is just amazing. Katherine’s work here is something really unique and auteur like. She is a confident director. Her camera angles and all are just beautiful. The use of colour and cinematography breathes life in to this film. I could pause the movie at any time and get treated by a beautiful shot. The writing of the film is great. The dialogues are crisp, tight and very well delivered. The story telling is interesting but I can’t help but get bored in some parts in the movie. The acting is easily one of the best of the year with Elizabeth Moss providing the best performance of her career.

She brings life to the character of Shirkey. She is fully invested in this character and provides a brilliant performance. Odessa Young as Rose is just breath taking. Her scenes in whiche she is silent are great. She acts with her eyes and provides a lot of emotions. I would be disappointed if these 2 actresses don’t get recognition at the awards season. Michael Stuhlbarg and Logan Lerman are also good in their respective roles and bring a lot to this film. The score by Tamar Kali sounds a lot like a Johnny Greenwood score. It works perfectly well to provide that look to a lot of scenes. It compliments the scenes and make them better. In the end, I would say that is an eloquently written film and if you like A24 films then you will
definitely enjoy this one.

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