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As renowned for her morose nature as she is for her horror fiction, writer Shirley Jackson (Elizabeth Moss) is crafting yet another masterpiece when the arrival of newlyweds Fred and Rose disrupt her creative process and marriage to literary critic - and philandering professor - Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg). As Stanley spars to maintain academic dominance over his would-be protégé Fred, Rose attempts to dampen her own ambitions and adjust to married life while living under the roof of their fiery intellectual hosts with quicksilver loyalties and myriad neuroses. When the motives of Shirley's literary muse prove elusive, Rose's curiosity and trusting nature make her tender prey for a brilliant author whose only allegiance is to her work.Written by
The missing Bennington College student referred to in the film was Paula Jean Welden who, while off campus, disappeared on December 1, 1946 while walking on Vermont's Long Trail hiking route. See more »
The death cap mushrooms Shirley points to don't resemble death cap mushrooms at all, which are usually white and flat-capped. It's entirely possible this is another example of Shirley's psychological manipulation. See more »
Fun academic story about The Lottery's Shirley Jackson.
In the early 1960's, without cellphones to distract their enclosed academic environment, Bennington English professor Stanley Hymen (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his genius fiction writer wife, Shirley Jackson (Elizabeth Moss), take in an academic couple, Fred (Logan Lerman), Stanley's new teaching assistant, and his wife, Rose (Odessa Young). Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is in the air of this literary icon biopic as booze works its magic on the older couple, who no longer need much to invigorate them than bottles of gin. Psychosexual tension abounds.
Shirley is the name of the film, and academic angst is the game.
This fictional take is based on Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrell and adapted by Sarah Gubbins. Whether or not Jackson will publish her scary stories is really just a McGuffin in this dark tale of sex and power in the outposts of the academy. She labors over a true story about Paula, a co-ed who vanished on campus.
In a time of female repression, Rose works her way around Stanley, becoming "little wifey" (Betty Friedan had not yet arrived). Fred, well, he's handsome enough to be busy with co-eds and working his way into a position in this prestigious department while the camera takes to roving at a frenetic pace.
As ambitions begin to collide, cinematographer Sturla Brandth sometimes too quickly moves the camera among them with a shadowing that seems to discourage our learning too much, too close. Rose and Fred capture the gothic ambivalence and danger of the household as they assess for Shirley about her famous short story "The Lottery": "That's creepy," says Fred; "It's terrific," says Shirley. True of the household itself.
Although this domestic drama is tightly wound like the little house it is set in, much is said about marriage, status, words, the creative process, and rivalry than first appears in the rancor and suspicions. Put your thinking cap on; class is in session, and it happens to be fun.
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