Shirley (2020) Review

Shirley Jackson is a horror writer who finds inspiration for a novel when she takes in a young couple with her husband Stanley Hyman, a literacy critic and professor. Fred and Rose not fully understanding what they have let themselves in for.


Rose and Fred Nemser have not been married very long and when Stanley see’s Fred as younger version of himself wants to take him under his wing. That often leaves Rose alone with Shirley who does not seem fully stable. Although I would like to point out the way Stanley treats her does not help the way she goes on and become somewhat of a recluse hardly even wanting to leave the house. He has many affairs with mainly his students and this is something she just has to deal with.

Shirley is supposed to be a biographical film based on the life of Shirley Jackson, while I did not know anything about her prior to watching the film afterwards I did a little bit of research and it should more be very loosely based on a real person. Completely taking out that they had three children and not really informing viewers of very much of her life. Must have more been what someone thought it could be like, which would be perfectly find by biopic and biography are left hanging around the film.

I get the slight twist at the end but by that point I really couldn’t have cared any less. None of the characters were all that likeable and I wasn’t bothered what was going to happen or could happen to them. Although except Stanley and Fred for being horrible lying cheats of course that was just irritating.

The only impressive thing about this film and the reason for the three stars is the truly outstanding leading performance from Elisabeth Moss. She has very quickly become one of my favourite actresses working at the moment taking on all different types of roles. In this one as Shirley Jackson she is given the opportunity to get a little bit crazy at times and take on a psychological challenge when influencing Rose. Another thing I am always impressed with is that she is willing to take on the roles where she doesn’t look fantastic all the time, more than happy to take on the “ugly” type roles. I don’t mean that to sound harsh and mean it as a compliment for that not putting her off. Willing to really be laid bare to put in fantastic performances.

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