NEON has released the trailer for Shirley, winner of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize – Auteur Filmmaking. Directed by Josephine Decker from a script by Sarah Gubbins, Shirley stars Elisabeth Moss, Odessa Young, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Logan Lerman.
In the film, 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 naïve young couple at their door.
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and brief disturbing images, the movie will be available everywhere on June 5th.
“Shirley Jackson was a wildly unorthodox human and storyteller. Encountering her work was like finding a map towards becoming the kind of artist I would like to be. Daring. Intimate. Structured yet dreamlike,” said Josephine Decker.
The filmmaker added: “Shirley’s work rides on the skin between imagined and real, seducing with its oddness and humble cracks until you can’t tell if you’re looking up the stairwell or into your own mouth. I felt strongly that this film needed to feel like a Shirley Jackson story. Cinematographer Sturla Grovlen and I tried to build an ever-evolving visual language for the film that would feel both real and surreal.”
Decker says that “Sarah Gubbins wrote a fantastic script that inhabits many worlds: the world inside Shirley’s house so different from the world outside Shirley’s house; the world inside Shirley’s mind at times inextricable from the world outside it. The layers kept folding in upon themselves. The napkin dropped. The spoon became a fork became a ghost. We were constantly chasing the reality, and I think this is one of the things I find most special about our film.
“I deeply adore collaboration, and on this project, we let the mystery remain a mystery. I hope that this was true on all levels of the process- – the acting, the production design, the cinematography. We had to work on the edge of what we knew so the process could remain fresh and alive, as mysterious as Shirley’s mind.”
She also commented on the cast members: “I feel blessed to have had an insanely great cast on this movie. I was constantly learning from them; our process of discovery always dipped further into our own unknowns. We had so much to work with as well thanks to Sarah’s incredible script.
“Sarah wrote stunning characters in Stanley and Shirley. Their wit, codependence and joy in manipulation ferment the brew of our story. In real life, Stanley and Shirley had the most fascinatingly open yet toxic relationship. I think in some ways, Sarah’s story is about cycles of abuse – and how self-destruction often masquerades as ‘success.’