“Shiva Baby’s” Four Competent Actresses Elevate Emma Seligman’s Calling Card.
“Shiva Baby” is a movie that feels like a live-action short that has been extended from a shorter live-action short. Not necessarily the best thing. The original (same title, from 2018) was eight minutes, while the current version is seventy-eight. Both were written by Emma Seligman, and both star Rachel Sennott. She plays 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!
Does She Have an eating disorder?
Seligman has a great ear for dialogue. Especially the “Could you tell me what her major is?” “Is she going to law school?” and “Does she have an eating disorder?” middle-class Jewish type. She also has a lovely way with a fluid camera as she follows Danielle from one room to another. From one embarrassing situation to the next.
Her Calling Card
Yet, for all its pleasures, “Shiva” seems like exactly what it is- an extended short. Seligman is exceptionally talented, and this is her calling card. Eight minutes was too short, but this is, deservedly, getting her noticed.
Cheers To Our Four Very Talented Actresses.
Finally, a toast from that appetizing buffet table to four exceptionally talented actresses. Sennott, who is in every scene, is marvelous throughout. 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.