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Shirley (2020)

1:36 | Trailer
A famous horror writer finds inspiration for her next book after she and her husband take in a young couple.


Josephine Decker


Sarah Gubbins (screenplay), Susan Scarf Merrell (novel)
517 ( 277)
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Elisabeth Moss ... Shirley Jackson
Odessa Young ... Rose Nemser / Paula
Michael Stuhlbarg ... Stanley Hyman
Logan Lerman ... Fred Nemser
Victoria Pedretti ... Katherine
Robert Wuhl ... Randy Fisher
Paul O'Brien ... Dean
Orlagh Cassidy ... Caroline
Bisserat Tseggai ... Peggy
Allen McCullough ... Norman
Tony Manna ... Drunken Fellow
Molly Fahey ... Faculty Wife (as Molly Elizabeth Fahey)
Edward O'Blenis ... Ralph Ellison
Ryan Spahn ... Drunk Cad
Vincent McCauley Vincent McCauley ... Grad Student


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 Mae Moreno

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and brief disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Elisabeth Moss' co-star in "The Invisible Man", Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Victoria Pedretti in "Shirley" both starred as twins in the TV series "The Haunting of Hill House", an adaptation of a Shirley Jackson novel. See more »


After breakfast, Rose puts a flower in the mouth of a bull statue that is sitting on the table. After the cut the flower is no longer in the bull's mouth, it is in the vase with the rest of the flowers. See more »


Shirley Jackson: [to Rose] Let's pray for a boy. The world is too cruel to girls.
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Baby Count Ten (The Counting Song)
Written by Cynthia Ellison and Raymond Saar
Performed by The Bell Sisters
Courtesy of d2 Music
See more »

User Reviews

How NOT to make a bio-pic
5 July 2020 | by ozjosh03See all my reviews

I really don't get it. Director Josephine Decker supposedly wants her film to illuminate the life and work of author Shirley Jackson. The actors spent time researching and immersing themselves in the lives of Shirley and of Stanley Hyman. But the film's story is only ever vaguely representative of their lives and personalities. Huge liberties have been taken. To give just one example, this Shirley and Stanley are childless, and seemingly tortured about it, whereas the real Shirley and Stanley had four children. In the end, one can only wonder what the point of this film is. It's no kind of tribute and it neither illuminates, nor explores Jackson's life and work when there's only a passing resemblance to the known facts. Decker actually seems more interested in spinning a story about the creative process, and how all-consuming, twisted and destructive it can be. That's all very well. But Decker's notions have little to nothing to do with Jackson. So why not just admit that her story is fictional? Pretending that it is some kind of biography, however loosely based on facts, just seems dishonest and ultimately exploitative. Ethical issues aside, it also has to be said that Decker's exploration of her Shirley's creative process involves long stretches of extreme tedium, some seriously contrived dramatic scenarios and a great deal of shameless scenery-chewing, albeit by a couple of very fine actors. Given that the melodrama revolves around an academic, his frumpy wife and their young house guests (and attendant sexual tensions) there are whole scenes that play like an uncomfortable homage / parody of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? If only it were even half as amusing and engaging.

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Release Date:

5 June 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shirley See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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