Adrienne Review – Tragic Story of a Life Cut Short

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Adrienne, from HBO MAX, presents the story of the actress Adrienne Shelly, murdered in 2006, in New York's West Village, celebrates her life and work as an actor, filmmaker, wife and mother and explores the grief of her loved ones.

The documentary begins with voice over by director Andy Ostroy, Adrienne Shelly's husband, who explained in 24 hours his life went from the best moment to a living nightmare. We understand as the scene begins with the birthday celebration of Shelly's two-year-old, Sophie, and a happy family, and in a snapshot becomes the final moment the three would be photographed together.


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The following day, both Ostroy and Shelly would be off to their respective offices, with plans for the evening. Although no communication throughout the day was rare, it didn't raise alarm bells until he arrived to pick her up. He describes the scene: an open door, no signs of struggle, nothing missing, and the love of his life suspended from a shower curtain rod in an apparent suicide.

By morning the "suicide" of Adrienne Shelly was front page new on every daily and all the tabloids. To her family, it just didn't make sense. Less than making sense they knew it was impossible. Impossible, even as all the evidence pointed to a neat explanation.

As we see Ostroy and Shelly were still very much in love at the time of her death and his dedication to uncovering the truth was essentially a continuance of his devotion to her and their child who we also meet. Sophie, now 17, is featured in the film allowing the audience into her world of grief. Honest moments she may have shared with her family she shares with the public. The loss, just the randomness of it all, and the why's,


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Adrienne Shelly, after starring in more than twenty films, decided she wanted to direct and write something real, something that mattered and eventually wrote and directed several movies including the Sundance Film Festival hit, "Waitress." 

The film which Shelly would not live to see the release, or experience the critical acclaim, nor experience the smash Broadway musical based on her work. The void from the body of work that could have been can never be realized just as the missed first moments of playing soccer with her daughter, or riding her bike, or the other moments we see when Ostroy confronts the killer.

Even as the audience travels this rad of grief with Ostroy and Shelly's family, they are the rare few, the ones who see justice. Even as they had to fight the system, and those who liked the neat explanation, hiring private forensic specialist to review each detail, and demanding, and expecting justice, they were the fortunate few to have a detective who was observant enough not to dismiss the slightest evidence, a partial shoe print.

It actually led to canvassing the building looking for the possibility of construction. Not long after the NYPD caught the killer.


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Through candid conversations with family, friends and colleagues, the documentary takes viewers on Ostroy's poignant journey to share Adrienne's life story and honor her legacy, while giving a rare window into how a family navigates unfathomable tragedy. 

Shaped through Ostroy's intimate narrative, home video and archival footage, and anecdotal interviews from those who knew and loved her, Adrienne details Shelly's determination to create art, her aspirations to uplift others, the beautiful family she left behind and ultimately the career success she always dreamed of and would never see.

The film also features actors Paul Rudd, Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, Nathan Fillion, Lew Temple, Jessie Mueller, and Jeremy Sisto recalling their personal experiences with Shelly and attesting to her talents. Other participants include director Hal Hartley; singer/composer Sara Bareilles; retired NYC homicide detective Irma Rivera-Duffy; forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden; family members and friends. 

Adrienne celebrates a life cut short and take the audience on a journey as her loved ones honor her memory. It is tragic, poignant, journey with palpable emotion. Adrienne is streaming on HBO MAX.


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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Runtime: 98 minutes.

Director: Andy Ostroy

Producer: Jillian A. Goldstein, Andy Ostroy.

Cast: Adrienne Shelly, Sophie Shelly, Andy Ostory, Paul Rudd, Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, Nathan Fillion, Lew Temple, Jessie Mueller, Jeremy Sisto, Sara Bareilles, Hal Hartley.

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