Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SHIRLEY (Hulu)

SHIRLEY, now available on either Hulu or you can rent it, is my pick of the most boring “kill me please” film of 2020. Yet it won’t be on my worst of the year list because I can acknowledge that I understood and appreciated what the film was trying to do and Elizabeth Moss’s performance is extraordinary, yet it just didn’t work for me, wasn’t my cup of tea you could say. And I won’t ever ever watch it again…if I happen to be with you while having a movie marathon night and you suggest that we watch this I’ll shove popcorn forcefully down your throat until you cry uncle. I was that bored. I was that bored I was wishing it for it to be done so I could watch a depressing episode of 13 Reasons Why for Christ’s sakes. This will be a very short review because there isn’t much that happens in the film other than senility, adultery, jealously, rinse & repeat. Logan Lerman is completely wasted in a supporting role and I would’ve rather watched just an ordinary bio pic on the life of horror writer Shirley Jackson than a unique experimentation film about a very brief time in her life, which don’t be fooled by the title, the latter is exactly what this is. I don’t even know if this shit happened at all and I don’t have the stamina to actually do some research. To be rather jerk-ishly forward with you, I’ll probably forget the entire film in over the course of a month.

Becky, per Rotten Tomatoes, is about “Renowned horror writer Shirley Jackson is on the precipice of writing her masterpiece when the arrival of newlyweds upends her meticulous routine and heightens tensions in her already tempestuous relationship with her philandering husband. The middle-aged couple, prone to ruthless barbs and copious afternoon cocktails, begins to toy mercilessly with the na├»ve young couple at their door.” Shirley Jackson’s philandering husband is played by Michael Stulbarg, and he does a pretty good job as well. But the young couple played by Odessa Young and Logan Lerman are one dimensional joke of characters, you neither get to know them or care what they are going through. And the ‘toy mercilessly’ in the description makes it sound like this movie is a thriller, but it isn’t. The toying isn’t even that bad, just a rude word said here or there with a couple of weird lucid dreams. The film is very uneventful. The only times I perked up was when Elizabeth Moss was acting, but when the camera was away from her it was hard to pay attention to what was going on.

The movie acts like an experimental film, the camera all over the place with extreme close ups and some time extreme blurriness, and it just didn’t work for me. I get that it was trying to go outside the slow and easy steady cam, and bring some life into a small part in Shirley Jackson’s life, but to me it just ended up being boring store brand icing on a boring store brand cake. A lot of top profile critics are liking this film, and I can see why because of Elizabeth Moss. She is doing fantastic things this year of COVID-19, with this and the much, much better The Invisible Man already under her belt. She’s becoming the Kate Winslet of a new generation. But to me, just one performance not a great movie make. I’ve always said that, whether it be Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married…or Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. I’m not going to just like a movie based off a performance alone. It’s gotta more value in different areas, and unfortunately the story and pacing just made me want to stab my eyes out in boredom. This is actually based on a short novel, and looking at the reviews, not a lot of regular readers took to it, thought that the written form of this project was boring as well. So I feel good about ending my review with this, if you didn’t like the novel and thought it was boring, surely this ain’t going to do anything for you either.