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Shirley

Elizabeth Moss plays Shirley Jackson, the acclaimed horror author who is probably best known for her short story, The Lottery, and her novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The film takes place later in her career as she is struggling to write her next novel. Her husband Stanley, a womanizer who is incessantly patronizing, invites a young professor, Fred, who is newly hired by Stanley’s university, and his wife Rose to stay with them, partly to help look in on Shirley, who is beginning to suffer from anxiety. Rose and Shirley develop an odd friendship that becomes the inspiration for the novel. This is such an interesting movie. First, it is not at all like typical biographical-inspired films. This one takes the basic, real-life story of Shirley (Moss even looks like her) and weaves in a fictional story that appears to stay true to who Shirley was but allows the audience to become absorbed into Shirley’s creative process. While the acting is very good (Michael Stuhlbarg is particularly loathsome as Stanley), Elizabeth Moss is exceptional and gives a tour-de-force and award-worthy performance. The film is carried primarily by her, and it is difficult to take your eyes off of her whenever she is on the screen. I really enjoyed the screenplay that is somewhat risky but pays off in a fascinating storyline. Big thumbs up from me. Two exceptional performances by Moss so far this year; I expect she might get some award nominations for this one for certain. (2020; 4.5 Stars)

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