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The Unbelievable Truth
November 18, 2006 — 5:30 am

Those of you interested in Adrienne Shelly’s death will have read a couple of weeks ago that, rather than hanging herself, she was apparently murdered. I saw all the updates coming over the wire at work as they were revealed, and managed to get a couple of them printed as briefs in the paper. I wonder if any of our readers had ever heard of her before . . .

I note that the initial blow to her head didn’t kill her — but the staged hanging did:

[Diego] Pillco was arrested Monday and charged with second-degree murder.

He was working for Hernandez on Nov. 1, renovating a West Village apartment, when Shelly, who also wrote and directed and had an office in the building, complained about the noise.

She threatened to call the cops, and Pillco, fearing his illegal status would be discovered, followed her to her upstairs apartment and knocked her to the ground, police said.

Thinking the blow had killed her, Pillco hanged Shelly by a bedsheet from the shower rod to conceal the murder as a suicide, police said.

Last week, a medical examiner discovered that the hanging, rather than the blow, killed Shelly, who was married and had a 3-year-old daughter.

After I saw Shelly in Trust for the first time in 1991, I believe I took my friend Jacob to see it later the same night. I wanted to see it again right away, and was already evangelizing for Hal Hartley converts. At any rate, Jacob commented on her passing at his own blog last week:

Thank God the police saw the bootprint on the toilet seat, followed through and got their man.

It still won’t bring her back, but at least her family will not have to wonder about her ‘suicide’ for the rest of their lives.

Here’s a tribute from an indieWIRE blogger. Another from Newsweek. An excerpt:

I went back while I was writing this and watched some of “Trust” again. In an interview, Hartley once explained that he made the movie on the spur of the moment because he wanted to work with Shelly again immediately after making “The Unbelievable Truth,” so he had very little money and very little time. The movie was shot in 11 days. The reason he could do that, he said, was because so much of the direction was implied in the dialogue. The dialogue pretty much told the actors what to do. That’s true. It’s a talky movie, like all Hartley movies. But what’s interesting about Shelly’s performance are the moments where she’s not talking, where she’s just listening to another character, or thinking by herself. Emotion travels over her face like clouds blown across a windy sky. The whole movie seems like it takes place on her face. The miracle is that while you’re watching this happen, you never once stop to think, what an actress. It’s just a girl in trouble on Long Island. When she was acting, Adrienne Shelly could make you forget all about Adrienne Shelly.

Here’s a roundup of tributes from GreenCine.

— Eric D. DixonComments (0)

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Eric D. Dixon

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