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Shirley | 2020 | R | – 6.4.5

content-ratingsWhy is “Shirley” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “sexual content, nudity, language and brief disturbing images.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes several sex scenes with some nudity and implied extramarital affairs and a romantic relationship between two women, many arguments and insulting remarks, an imagined miscarriage with a lot of blood shown on the woman, discussions of a missing young woman, an implied suicide, and 6 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.”


A newly married couple (Logan Lerman and Odessa Young) is taken in by a husband (Michael Stuhlbarg), who’s a professor, and his wife (Elisabeth Moss), who’s a famous horror writer, in a small university town in order to assist with household chores and university work. As their relationships grow and become more entangled, it becomes clear that the young couple is being used for more than household service. Also with Steve Vinovich, Ryan Spahn, Adelind Horan and Molly Fahey. Directed by Josephine Decker. [Running Time: 1:47]

Shirley SEX/NUDITY 6

 – A woman touches her husband’s clothed thigh while seated in an occupied train and they move to an unoccupied space and have sex: they kiss, she opens her blouse and he opens his pants (we see cleavage and his bare thigh to the hip and partial bare buttock), he pulls her underwear off and he thrusts repeatedly as they both moan. A woman wears a full slip while sitting in bed (we see cleavage, bare shoulders and back) as her husband kisses her bare chest and the scene ends (sex is implied). A husband kisses his wife’s bare hip and shoulder (she’s wearing a full slip in bed and we see cleavage and her bare legs to the clothed crotch) and he tries to seduce her but she declines saying that she is tired; she then climbs on top of the man, kisses him and thrusts while moaning (we see her bare breasts). A husband and his wife have sex and we hear moaning and see thrusting (her partial bare breasts are seen). A man removes his shirt and pants for bed (we see his bare chest, abdomen and boxers and his wife opens her nightgown to reveal her bare breast); she touches his abdomen and boxer waistband but the man stops her.
 A woman unbuttons her top and we see her bare breasts and bare pregnant abdomen. A woman buttons up her pajama top and we can see her nipple through the fabric. A woman breastfeeds her infant (we do not see flesh). A woman helps another woman try on a skirt in a dressing room in a store and we see the woman’s cleavage and bare shoulders. A woman wears a full slip that reveals cleavage, bare shoulders and upper back in several scenes.
 A man snuggles against a woman’s neck and she thinks he is her husband; she is alarmed when she realizes it is another man. A man dances with another man’s wife, dips her and kisses her; she is surprised but does not react otherwise. Two women play footsie under a dining table while having dinner with their husbands. A woman in a tub (we see her bare shoulders) holds another woman (clothed) in the tub (she seems to be comforting her and it is likely an imagined scene).
 A woman swings on a swing and another woman stands in front of her as her legs move between the swinging woman’s legs; the second woman lifts her skirt to reveal her stocking-covered legs and leans over abruptly and they look at each other with their faces close together as the scene ends. A woman touches another woman’s face tenderly; it’s not clear if there is a sexual intent. Two women lie in bed together (both clothed and on top of the bedclothes). A man dances with a woman at a party and touches her clothed hips in a familiar manner while his wife watches from across the room.
 Several young women dance around a tree with suggestive movements (one wears a swimsuit top and shorts that reveal cleavage, bare abdomen and bare legs to the hips) as another woman passes by and watches them; we see another scene of the young women dancing later and one young woman makes a suggestive gesture with her hand and mouth. A man stumbles on a pile of nettles and other greens under his bed and becomes upset when his wife says that it’s a fertility offering.
 A husband says to his wife that he thinks she is smitten with another woman; she replies, “I don’t smote.” A man says that another man, “Had all the gals eating out of his hands” at a lecture. A woman is upset when the phone rings during dinner and makes comments about it being a woman that her husband is having an affair with. A woman tells a pregnant woman that they should “pray for a boy” because, “The world is too cruel to girls.” A woman implies to another woman that her husband is being unfaithful when he is out late at night.


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Shirley VIOLENCE/GORE 4

 – A woman imagines a young woman miscarrying and we see the young woman with a lot of blood on her legs and feet and pooling on the floor.
 A woman marches through woods followed by another woman, they both stop on a cliff and one woman moves close to the edge seemingly contemplating suicide (it is not clear if anyone jumps). A woman squeezes another woman’s face and tells her that she would bore a man (he first woman’s husband). A woman is alarmed when she finds another woman motionless and lying on a floor; the motionless woman wakes with a start when thunder is heard outside. A woman imagines seeing a missing young woman in several scenes and imagines what she might have done in her last moments. A woman writes about what she suspects happened to a 17-year-old girl that went missing. A woman imagines a young woman following a man into isolated woods before she went missing.
 A woman pours red wine on a woman’s sofa and rubs it in with her hand; the other woman panics and tries to clean the mess. A woman throws a dish on the floor breaking it, and then runs into woods followed by another woman; they sit together, one offers the other a poisonous mushroom but she does not take it, and the first woman eats it and the second woman becomes upset that she will die (it is not poisonous). A woman seems to be having a panic attack when she leaves her home; another woman helps her by holding her arm and we see her cowering in a dressing room in a store until the second woman helps her try on a skirt. A woman sits on an exam table in a clinic (fully clothed) and steals a patient file from a cabinet nearby; she sits on the file when a nurse enters the room and the nurse uses a tongue depressor to look in her mouth.
 A woman quizzes a man about having given a young woman a ride in his postal truck on the day she went missing. A man stumbles on a pile of nettles and other greens under his bed and becomes upset when his wife says that it’s a fertility offering.
 A woman pounds on another woman’s door and yells for her to open it; she does not. A woman yells at her husband when she confronts him about his infidelity. A man yells in frustration about another man not being worthy of a university position and seeming entitled; he says, “Over my dead body.” A woman yells at another woman and throws her out of her office after finding her reading what she has been writing. A man is dismissive of another man’s work and tells him it lacks originality and that he should consider teaching at the high school level. A woman is dismissive and insulting to another woman while at a dinner table (she quizzes her about being pregnant and asks whether she had a shotgun wedding) and the other woman eventually leaves the room. A woman reads a story and remarks to her husband, “They stone her,” and “The whole town, even her own children” about a character in the story. A man describes a woman’s story as an “anti-Semitic parable.” A husband wakes his wife and tells her she must get up and come to dinner; he accuses her of being in bed all day. A woman says, “A clean house is a sign of an inferior mind.” A woman talks about being “on the verge of madness.” A man talks to a woman about her writing and that what she wrote made him wonder what he would do if he picked up a paperweight and smashed his own head in. A husband tells his wife that she is not up to writing a novel and disparages her efforts in several scenes; he says, “You haven’t been out of the house in months.” A woman becomes angry when the phone rings during dinner and quizzes her husband about who is calling (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details). A woman tells another woman, “Motherhood comes with a price.” A woman says that she will prepare a spell for another woman’s baby to be healthy and then says to the pregnant woman, “Unless you want the other thing” (presumably referring to either abortion or miscarriage). A woman draws three tarot cards and we see that they are each of the same thing, “The Hanged Man.” A woman asks a younger woman about whether she regrets giving up her studies for marriage and a family. A woman tells another woman that she is lost and that she has a secret. A woman says that the book she is writing might kill her. A woman says of another woman, “She’s gone sick in the head.” A man talks about a woman writing stories with cannibalism in them. A woman tells a man that he should help his wife to bed before she ends up face down in a plate. A woman tells a pregnant woman that they should “pray for a boy” because, “The world is too cruel to girls.” A woman asks another woman if she thinks that a missing young woman killed herself. A woman talks about “The bad thing happened.” A woman says that women “Cannot make the world see them.” A husband tells his wife that a man is kicking them out.
 A woman digs in the mud and rolls over in it while smoking a cigarette. A woman says that she had a dream about rotten food in the fridge and that large worms were coming out of the crisper (we do not see anything out of the ordinary). A man has food in his mustache and beard after eating and he kisses a woman on the cheek. A young woman picks up food-covered dishes from a sink and scrubs them. A woman reads a young woman’s medical file and lists “severe menstrual cramps” as a symptom and another woman conjectures that she was having a miscarriage. A woman cuts a chicken into pieces to cook. A woman drops raw eggs onto the floor in a couple of scenes breaking them open (we see the goo). A woman tears up a library book signature card and eats the pieces.


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Shirley LANGUAGE 5

 – About 6 F-words, 1 sexual reference, 1 scatological term, 1 anatomical term, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (creepy, thrillingly horrible, scullery maid, knocked up, monster, witch, lackey, horrific, decrepit, feudal lord, nothing, disturbed, wood sprite, crazy, hoi polloi, derivative, same old, wifey, entitled [anatomical term deleted]), 1 religious profanity (GD), 2 religious exclamations (e.g. Christ, Thank God). | profanity glossary |


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Shirley SUBSTANCE USE

 – People drink alcohol in a couple of party scenes and a couple of people drink to excess, a woman drinks whiskey and wine in many scenes throughout the movie, a man pours glasses of wine for people in several dinner scenes and people drink, a man stumbles into his room and his wife accuses him of being drunk, two women drink together, men and women drink wine with dinner, a wife tells her husband that he smells like a “gin bath,” and a husband tells his wife that it’s “cocktail hour” to coax her out of bed. A woman smokes cigarettes in most scenes throughout the movie (including while in bed and while in a bathtub).


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Shirley DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Missing persons, horror stories, manipulation, romance, myths, folklore, mediocrity, tenure, authority, relationships between professors and their students, human depravity, fear, friendship, suicide, infidelity, depression, trust, betrayal, mortality, mental illness, regret, Sigmund Freud, mind games, manipulation, dropping out.

Shirley MESSAGE

 – Living with creative people can be very challenging since they may hover at the edge of insanity.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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