Image of movie Shirley
Image of movie Shirley
Image of movie Shirley


Josephine Decker
United States 2019
106 min

Josephine Decker’s film is a fantasia based on details from the married life of Shirley Jackson, author of “The Haunting of Hill House” – and a classic “unruly woman” who defied convention, respectability, and politeness. It’s the 1950s, so her academic husband Stanley teaches blues music as “myth and folklore” to students at Bennington, and a new, permissive morality fights the old, sedimented ways of the local community. Shirley herself fights crippling depression. Into this dysfunctional but colorful household come young scholar Fred and his feisty, pregnant wife Rosie – who becomes Shirley’s assistant and much more. Decker slices and dices the generic moods: biopic, psychological thriller, horror, visionary art film, avant-garde extrapolation. There are fleeting allusions to Akerman’s JEANNE DIELMAN, Bergman’s PERSONA, Losey’s THE SERVANT, Polanski’s REPULSION. Decker’s cinematic style is haptic: seeing as touching, the camera-eye as the fingers of a hand. Dreamlike images abound, but even ordinary scenes have a hallucinatory air. In this grandly textured tale where fiction and reality often change places, Elisabeth Moss’ astonishing performance as Shirley provides a solid anchor. (Adrian Martin)

Josefine Decker: NAKED PRINCETON (2005), BI THE WAY (2008, Ko-Regie), WHERE ARE YOU GOING, ELENA? (2009, K), SQEEZEBOX (2010, K), BUTTER ON THE LATCH (2014), THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY (2014), COLLECTIVE: UNCONSCIOUS (2016, Episode), FLAMES (2017, Ko-Regie), MOSAIC (2017, Episode), MADELINE’S MADELINE (2018), THE MASK TASK (2018, K)

  • Elisabeth Moss - Shirley
  • Michael Stuhlbarg - Stanley
  • Odessa Young - Rose
  • Logan Lerman - Fred
  • Sarah Gubbins
  • Sturla Brandth Grovlen
  • Dan Bricker
  • David Barker
  • Tamar Kali
  • Sue Chan
  • Amela Baksic
LAMF, Killer Films

Cornerstone Films

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