A renowned horror and mystery author could only have a biopic according to her figure. For this reason, Shirley is not the typical drama that recreates real events, but instead plays with the fiction and suspense so typical of any of the stories of the writer Shirley Jackson. Elisabeth Moss puts herself in the shoes of this famous protagonist and once again gives us a performance worthy of several awards. Who was Jackson and what is so appealing about this offbeat tale? We’ll tell you then.
Shirley is in the process of creating her next great work when her concentration is interrupted by the arrival of Fred (Logan Lerman), a new protégé of her husband – critic and professor Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg) -, and his wife Rose (Odessa). Young). The young couple settles in the house of their hosts, unbalancing the day to day of their work and their marriage. For Stanley, this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate his academic mastery. For Shirley, the possible inspiration for a terrifying novel, Rose being her most tender and trusting “prey”.
Winner of the Jury Prize for best auteur film at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the film directed by Josephine Decker takes note of the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Merrell: a “largely fictional story” about the life of the playwright, at the time of writing Hangsaman in 1951. Moss, best known for her role as June in The Handmaid’s Tale, committed 100% to the role of Jackson, immersed herself in her work, listened to audio recordings of the author reading excerpts from her books and, above all, dissected the correspondence between Shirley and her husband: passionate, funny, moving and very revealing letters when it comes to portraying the character.
“Shirley and Stanley were incredibly smart, wrote all the time and were deeply in love despite having an open, modern relationship. They were very much a unit and I think we captured that.” Elisabeth Moss
Shirley Jackson specialized in the horror genre. Her career spanned two decades, where she composed six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories.. His work inspired authors like Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, Neil Gaiman, and Richard Matheson, and thanks to the Netflix adaptation, The Haunting of Hill House is more relevant than ever: considered by many to be one of the greatest ghost stories ever written.
This film is quite far from his life and leaves several elements aside, such as the couple’s children. Instead, Decker and screenwriter Sarah Gubbins create their own version of her, turning the novelist into a character who could easily have starred in one of her stories. At the center of the narrative is the bond between Jackson and Hyman, a relationship as abusive (by both) as it is loving.
“For us it is the ‘anti-biography. We knew it was very fictional because it was based on previous work. Yes, there is a certain responsibility, but I also believe that art is art and it is dangerous to put any kind of rules or limitations”, Elisabeth Moss
Shirley arrives in theaters in Argentina, a little late, this Thursday, May 12. A good excuse to meet this great author who gave us more than one nightmare. Have you seen this preview?