Shiva Baby (2021) Film Review B-

Director Emma Seligman’s feature debut “Shiva Baby” stars Rachel Sennott as Danielle, a young bisexual Jewish woman who attends a Shiva (she keeps asking, “Who Died?”) with her parents (Fred Melamed and Polly Draper). Within minutes, she runs into her ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon) and her sugar daddy Max (Danny Defarrari). Max has his shiksa goddess wife Kim (Dianna Argon) and baby in tow. Kim may or may not have converted, or her father might be Jewish – but that doesn’t count!

Seligman has extended her original eight-minute short film of the same title, which also starred Sennott – at 78 minutes, this offering clocks in as a quick feature – and sometimes, when the energy sags, “Siva Baby” feels precisely that. However, she has a good ear for dialogue. Or maybe we should make that monologue since much of the script comes from unanswered questions of the middle-class Jewish variety, such as: Could you tell me what her major is? Is she going to law school? And Does she have an eating disorder? She also has a way with a fluid camera as she follows Danielle from one room to another and from one embarrassing situation to the next.

Finally, a toast from that appetizing buffet table to four exceptionally talented actresses. Sennott, who is in every scene, is marvelous throughout. She is a talent to be watched. Draper, as the Jewish mother from heaven and hell simultaneously, nails it. Gordon is about perfect, and Argon, who spends the entire film cradling her newborn, does wonders with her small role.

Mazel tov!

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