That is the brilliance of what Decker is doing in Shirley. Instead of creating a film inspired by the work of Jackson or a taciturn biopic of her life, Decker instead creates something that tries to replicate the feeling of reading Shirley Jackson within the framework of the author’s mind. By doing this, she is turning the biopic on its head, producing something that is normally described as a fictionalized retelling and transforming it into fiction. It is authenticated fiction inspired by details of Jackson’s inner and relational life, sure, but it is fiction nonetheless. With this kind of artist-inspired, truth-adjacent creation, Josephine Decker created something special and unique, something that never makes us care if, for all intents and purposes, Rose Nesmer never existed.
Shirley is currently streaming on Hulu.