The Shining (1980)

So much has been written about Stanley Kubrick’s famously unfaithful adaptation of Stephen King’s masterpiece that it’s hard to figure out exactly what I can contribute to the dialogue. I could discuss the Overlook Hotel and how Kubrick films it in all its majesty with long, wide tracking shots that create an intimacy that’s later subverted as well an untouchable coldness that prevents its characters from ever truly settling in to their surroundings. Maybe I could discuss the underlying themes of the ravages of alcoholism and child abuse, or how effectively Kubrick manages to establish the Torrance family as one teetering near the precipice of catastrophe before they even step foot in the Overlook Hotel and awake its long-slumbering ghosts. But what’s always captivated me the most about this movie is Shelley Duvall’s strikingly believable performance: It’s a rare instance of an actor who nails an unflattering role so thoroughly that most people didn’t even recognize she was acting. Anyone who has seen her in, say, “3 Women” or “Nashville,” will know that the distinctive actress oozes a quiet form of self-assurance that’s nothing like her meek character Wendy here, and she tears into the role with an admirable lack of vanity and trust in Kubrick’s vision. It’s my sincere belief that Duvall’s performance is mainstream cinema’s most misunderstood and underappreciated, and I hope one day there’s more recognition for her efforts. As for the movie itself, it’s one of my personal favorites and one that I still appreciate each time.

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)

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