Elisabeth Moss stars as Shirley Jackson in ‘Shirley,’ a rare film set in Vermont

It’s rare that a feature film is set in Vermont. A movie opening this weekend stars Elisabeth Moss as one of Vermont’s best-known authors.

“Shirley” features Moss as Shirley Jackson, author of novels and short stories including “The Lottery,” a frightening tale read by high-schoolers around the world. The film takes place in the 1960s in southern Vermont, where Jackson’s husband, literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, taught at Bennington College.

Moss, known for her work in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Mad Men” and “The Invisible Man,” stars opposite Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrays Hyman. The Vermont International Film Festival is taking part in a screening of “Shirley” at 7 p.m. Saturday. The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Moss and director Josephine Decker.

“Renowned horror writer Shirley Jackson is on the precipice of writing her masterpiece when the arrival of newlyweds upends her meticulous routine and heightens tensions in her already tempestuous relationship with her philandering husband,” the film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes writes of the plot of “Shirley.” “The middle-aged couple, prone to ruthless barbs and copious afternoon cocktails, begins to toy mercilessly with the naïve young couple at their door.”

Rotten Tomatoes gives “Shirley” a 94-percent favorable rating in pre-release reviews. Slate magazine calls the film “a showcase for two commanding performances from Moss and Stuhlbarg.” The New Yorker is less flattering, saying the film “coats (Jackson) in gothic excess as if glazing a ham, and of her humor scarcely a shred remains.”

Though the film is set in Vermont, “Shirley” was shot in New York, according to Deadline.com.

The screening and Q&A is part of a nationwide event run by the film’s distributor, Neon. Half of the proceeds for those choosing to view via the Vermont International Film Festival go to VTIFF, according to VTIFF’s executive director, Orly Yadin.

If you watch

WHAT: “Shirley,” starring Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, June 6

INFORMATION: $12; half of proceeds for those selecting Vermont International Film Festival go to VTIFF. www.vtiff.org.

Contact Brent Hallenbeck at (802) 660-1844 or bhallenbeck@freepressmedia.com. Follow Brent on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BrentHallenbeck.

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