shirley trailer

After already knocking it out of the park in The Invisible Man, Elisabeth Moss is back to wow us with yet another killer 2020 performance. The actress, who seems to specialize in playing women coming unmoored, stars as the troubled writer Shirley Jackson in Josephine Decker‘s Shirley. This is no by-the-numbers biopic, but rather a strange, haunting, and wholly unconventional attempt to take the viewer inside Jackson’s troubled mind. Watch the Shirley trailer below.

Shirley Trailer

One of the best films I saw at Sundance this year was Shirley, a strange, disorienting portrait of author Shirley Jackson, the writer of The Haunting of Hill House and more. Elisabeth Moss plays the author, and she delivers yet another dynamite performance that will take your breath away. As I wrote in my review:

No mere biopic, Shirley is a haunting portrait of author Shirley Jackson, telling a tale that didn’t actually happen. This is a fictional biography, and yet every moment rings true. Director Josephine Decker and screenwriter Sarah Gubbins have captured Jackson’s literary voice, while Elisabeth Moss has captured the late author’s very essence itself. Moss is so good here it’s scary, playing Jackson as a raging, neurotic mess prone to fits of crippling depression and bursts of brilliance. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

In Shirley, “Renowned horror writer Shirley Jackson is on the precipice of writing her masterpiece when the arrival of newlyweds upends her meticulous routine and heightens tensions in her already tempestuous relationship with her philandering husband. The middle-aged couple, prone to ruthless barbs and copious afternoon cocktails, begins to toy mercilessly with the naïve young couple at their door.” In addition to Moss the film features Michael Stuhlbarg, Logan Lerman, and Odessa Young.

I’m very curious to see how people react to this movie, because anyone going into this expecting a standard “troubled artist” movie is not going to know what hit them. Director Josephine Decker uses surreal cinematography, uncomfortable close-ups, and jarring sound design – full of train whistles, insect hums, and bird songs in scenes where no such things are actually present.

Neon is saying the film will be “everywhere” June 5, which I can only assume implies a digital release at this point. Don’t miss it.

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