Shirley (2020)

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Shirley is a 2020 American biographical drama film directed by Josephine Decker based on the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Morrell. It stars Elizabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg Odessa Young and Logan Lerman. The film follows a young couple that moves in with Shirley Jackson and her Bennington College professor husaband, Stanley Hyman, hooping to start a new life. Instead they find themselves in a psycho thriller drama that inspires her next book.

You learn a lot about the life of thriller and mystery writer Shirley Jackson and her mental and physical health. She was a heavy drinker, had severe manic depression, was paranoid schizophrenic, agoraphobic, selfish and often times mean, speaking exactly what she was thinking. She was married to Stanley Hyman from 1940-1965 when she died.

Shirley (Moss) never leaves the house and studies the young wife, Rose Nemser who is living in the house and helping out around the home while going to school and looking for a job. Rose’s husband is Fred Nemser and he eventually becomes a professor at Bennington too, like Stanley. The young couple discover that Shirley is mentally ill and needs 24/7 care but Stanley refuses it telling them to just leave her alone and let her do her writing alone. Rose finds a page of Shirley’s newest novel in progress, starts to read it, discovering it’s about Fred and her,  gets upset and offended. Shirley walks in and finds her reading it and they both get angry and fight. Shirley hits Rose across the face.

Rose tells Fred about what happened and he doesn’t believe her until one evening at dinner when Shirley acts out dark and twisted scene, pointing a knife at both of them. The couple tell Stanley they can’t continue living there with Shirley in the house and they both beg him to send her to a mental institution, which he turns down, saying she is better off at home with him. Other parts of the film read and reenact scenes from Jackson’s book Hangsaman.

Elizabeth Moss is fantastic as Shirley Jackson and Michael Stuhlbarg is outstanding as Stanley Hyman. Odessa Young and Logan Lerman are very good, not great as Rose and Fred Nemser. The chronicles the life of Shirley and Stanley and the Nemsers that live with them and her latest novel.

Them film is fairly spectacular but would have be better if it had started from her childhood but it’s not a documentary. But you still get to know Shirley well as in her mental illnesses, her drinking problem and her inspirations and writing style. She may have been ill, but she was a fantastic writer and has inspired many ther writers.

This film is filled with illnesses, selfishness, drinking, smoking, fighting and sex. There is full frontal nudity in a couple of scenes as well, so no young viewers at all, only adults. The role of Shirley was one hundred percent perfect for Moss. No other person could have played her but Elizabeth. This a dark, pretty disturbing (at times) film. It shows how how mental health issues affect people and the ones around them and how a writer comes up with their stories. Some parts are a bit slow, but overall an  excellent movie. 18 & up 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window

Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr.

The film follows the story of photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries (Stewart) who is confined to a wheelchair in his Chelsea apartment. His rear window looks out into the courtyard and several apartments. During a heat wave, he watches his neighbors, who are keeping their windows open to be cool. He sees many different things going on, but is convinced one of his neighbors has committed murder.

This film has been said to one of Hitchcock’s best. It starts outs slow, but does pick up. It also isn’t Hitchcock ‘s most action packed film, but it is still fairly entertaining despite being a bit slow at times. But that’s because it takes place almost entirely in Jefferies’ apartment.

This film at times is a bit boring and could some some action or more interesting scenes than just L.B. Looking out his window the whole time, but that’s what you get from a character that is supposed to be wheelchair bound. James Stewart is great as L.B. Jefferies and Grace Kelly is equally great as his girlfriend Lisa Carroll Fremont. They worked together perfectly throughout the movie.

This isn’t Hitchcock’s most exciting film and much of it far too slow. It could have use some action of some sort to make it more enjoyable, but that doesn’t make it a bad film, just not anything outstanding in my opinion, although many film critics and scholars would say differently.

There are some some good parts of this movie, like the supposed murder scene and the exuberant dancer, just the ordinary people is what is uninteresting and that they could have done without.  But being the doctor’s orders that Jeff keep his leg elevated, we’re sadly stuck in his apartment with him. Had this film had more settings, it would have been more captivating, even though film experts will probably say otherwise.

Overall the acting is fantastic, but the story lacking a bit of the excitement factor it deserves from such a great cast and director. It’s not terrible, but it’s not outstanding. Alfred. Could have done better. 18 & up 3.5/5