In 2016, director Josephine Decker started rereading the horror stories of Shirley Jackson (1916-1965). Shortly after that she happened to be asked whether she would like to direct a film about this unconventional American writer. She did. Now we have Shirley, a film that brings to mind Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but suffused with Jackson's thoughts and Decker's dreamlike visualization. Leading actress Elisabeth Moss excels in her portrayal of Shirley.
Fred and Rose arrive in a small town in Vermont, where Fred will work as an assistant to professor and literary critic Stanley Hyman. Hyman offers the young couple to move in with him and his wife, writer Shirley Jackson. On one condition: that Rose will help around the house and take care of Shirley. It soon becomes clear that this is no easy task, as Shirley is permanently angry due to a writing block, but also because Stanley and Shirley's marriage is tumultuous, to say the least.