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Shirley; As one Whom Likes Weird... This is too Strange for my Liking. Grade: C


Shirley tells a story about a successful writer Shirley (Elizabeth Moss), whom is an introvert as she doesn’t care for people. Her husband takes in a couple, as Shirley wasn’t too fond of this idea. But later on Shirley got some inspiration for her new novel from the woman in this relationship Rose (Odessa Young). Witness a very strange film, as we go behind the mind of a writer doing all she can to create her next masterpiece.


The Cinematography was solid, reminds me of a Lars Von Trier type of style, especially towards the close ups. I guess my favorite shots have to be the ones, that felt totally random towards the story or just random shots of Shirley just being... Shirley. One particular random shot is a shot outside in the dark, where a light casted on a group of young women. The Score was pretty good, it’s a very lovely composed score. The only issue I have with the Score was simply over barring a simple dining scene, as I couldn’t make of what the characters were saying in this scene. The cast all in all was pretty good, they compliment the weird environment of this film. Elizabeth Moss playing Shirley was pretty damn good, you can say it’s been a nice year for this actress indeed. In ways I can relate to Shirley as I’m too not fond of human beings myself as I’m a writer as well. The way she acts in the entire film is completely bizarre, as I question how Rose could possibly find this woman appealing?! She’s extremely rude and I question the sanity of this character, I really don’t know how anyone can find her at interest, she doesn’t like doing anything but sit in the house, write her story, and do abnormal activities. Odessa Young playing Rose was pretty good as well, the journey this character takes on with pregnancy and Shirley is an odd match indeed. Michael Stuhlbarg playing Shirley’s husband Stanley as always is terrific, the character is somewhat abnormal as well but tolerable. In a way you can honestly tell why Shirley and Stanley were made for each other, as both were intelligent beings, yet have quite intriguing character traits. Stanley isn’t the nicest critique, as he will shatter your dreams down to the ground if your work isn’t above mediocre, as we saw in the third act. Logan Lerman playing Rose’s husband Fred was pretty good as well, I felt I was rewatching Indignation for a quick second.


Shirley comes from director Josephine Decker, her last film was Madelines Madeline an excellent film as it cracked my Top 20 films list in 2018. So you can tell there was much anticipation in partaking in her new film, as well as it’s associated with Neon Rated. For awhile I kept trying to make time watching this film, as I could never sit myself down and do so. Maybe it was my body giving me a warning, that Shirley was going to be a major let down compared to Madelines Madeline. Unfortunately... That is the outcome.


Let’s start with the positives: The characters are never dull. Fred may not be as strange as the other three main characters, however there is something there to behold, as we later find out he has moral purpose in providing Rose her development in losing her sanity. As far as the other characters, I don’t expect anyone to feel bored while watching them. Shirley the main character despite her abnormal behavior, her involvement with her new novel is rather intriguing too say the least. You can tell this is a passionate writer, who wants to get everything perfect the first time around, as she pays full attention to every detail. It was kind of cool to see Shirley’s imagination come to life, as she’s putting in the pieces together in her new story inside her own mind.


The thing with Shirley is the weird nature of this film is too weird. It’s weird to the point, where it has me finding trouble to comprehend what is actually going on. There are side plots in which become extremely necessary, as it takes away the focus of the story at hand. Maybe the distractions that have nothing to do with the story, was a visual form of writers block encountering Shirley’s mind?! Who knows, but honestly it becomes difficult to watch. Another main issue with the film is Rose growing fond of Shirley... I don’t get what motivates this character, in partaking interest in Shirley at all. She’s rude to Rose, the way she goes on about during the process of her writing is strange. I get Rose feels she’s providing importance towards Shirley’s life regarding the novel she’s currently working on, but outside of the novel... What makes this character want to spend any significant time, talking about God knows what?! The characters are there regarding providing interest in the story, the problem is this story is a mixed bag, as you find yourself asking questions that’ll never be answered, as it feels all over the place. Just a strange film that doesn’t sit well with me at all, which is a disappointment itself.


Overall, Shirley was just ok. I guess give this film a try, I rather recommend Madelines Madeline or even Indignation over this. -Mitch Smietana

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