Shirley is a gothic drama about Shirley Jackson’s haunted life

Shirley still from Sundance

Thatcher Keats / Sundance Institute

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review comes from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Shirley Jackson is best known for her creepiest and most misanthropic work, like her novel The Haunting of Hill House and the vicious short story “The Lottery.” But she was also a prolific chronicler of domestic life, publishing two books of lighthearted stories about raising her children. It’s a complexity that was frequently pointed out a few years ago, after the release of a Jackson biography in 2016.

Josephine Decker’s new film Shirley isn’t a biography. It’s a drama set during one of Shirley Jackson’s worst periods of depression and agoraphobia, written mostly…

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