Shirley, dir. Josephine Decker, USA 2020, 107 min.
‘I’m a witch, didn’t anyone tell you?’ When we first meet Shirley (Elisabeth Moss), soon to become America’s queen of horror fiction, she seems to be no such thing; just a sad, drunken shut-in, married to a cheating English professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) and blocked as a writer. But with the arrival of Rose (Odessa Young) and her teaching-assistant husband Fred (Logan Lerman), Shirley reveals herself as a far crueller and more sophisticated creature, seducing the innocent girl into becoming her companion and accomplice in the new mystery novel she is writing. Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf is clearly a touchstone, but Josephine Decker’s psychodrama goes further, blurring the boundaries of biopic and fiction in exploring the cruel forces that can feed creativity.