Shirley (2020)

Shirley
Director: Josephine Decker
Writer: Sarah Gubbins
Based on: Susan Scarf Merrell‘s novel
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Odessa Young, Michael Stuhlbarg, Logan Lerman
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2020

Plot:
Fred (Logan Lerman) and Rose (Odessa Young) were recently married and are excited to embark on a new step in their life: Fred got a dissertation spot with Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Rose could enrol at his university, too. Rose is also excited to meet Hyman’s wife, the famous writer Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss). But things come very different than expected. Shirley is abrasive and the few days that Fred and Rose were invited to stay at their home until they get settled in their own turn longer and longer, with Rose picking up more and more of the domestic duties. Her presence seems to help Shirley focus on her work at least, and the two women become closer.

Shirley is a film made of ambivalences – ambivalent characters make very ambivalent choices in a blend of fact and fiction that is also pretty ambivalent. That makes it rather challenging, but I thought it was more than worth it.

The film poster showing Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) sitting at a desk in the middle of the woods.
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A Million Little Pieces (2018)

A Million Little Pieces
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Writer: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson
Based on: James Frey‘s memoir/novel
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Odessa Young, Charlie Hunnam, Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Bob Thornton, David Dastmalchian, Dash Mihok, Ryan Hurst
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 11.9.2018

Plot:
After falling from a balcony because he is so high, James (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is finally admitted into a rehab center in Minnesota by his brother (Charlie Hunnam). As James slowly starts to work through is own issues and becoming clean, he gets to know his rehab colleagues, above all Lilly (Odessa Young) whom he feels very drawn to, his roommate (Giovanni Ribisi) and Leonard (Billy Bob Thornton) who becomes something like a guide for him.

A Million Little Pieces is a strong film that interestingly enough puts the body front and center, drawing on dance as a form of expression and is much more serious and less sensationalistic than I expected after the book’s history. I was much more impressed by it than I thought it would be.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the film.
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