Shirley ★★★★½

The prospect of Josephine Decker turning to the moribund genre of the biopic honestly wasn't that exciting, but leave it to the modern master of psychosexual cinema to craft a gothic romance in which Shirley Jackson is both Jane Eyre and Bertha to a preening, smug professor, defiant and outspoken but also a caged bird cuckqueaned by a man who can scarcely speak to others without aggressively flirting but flinches at his wife's touch. Add in the complicating dynamics of the other couple who further unmoor this from a straight look at its subject, allowing Decker to eschew the tedium of a writer biography of watching an author hunt for inspiration amid montages of typewriters clacking and pens scratching. Instead, Decker finds a way to embody the strange, insoluble, unnerving energy of Jackson's prose in a film that fittingly always seems to be building to a catastrophic rupture. It's yet another feather in Decker's cap as one of the finest American filmmakers of her generation, and a much-needed entry into the biopic genre that shakes conventions to their cores.