Shiva Baby’s four competent actresses elevate Emma Seligman’s calling card.

Shiva Baby

A Shiva

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!

Shiva Baby

Does She Have an Eating Disorder

Seligman has a great ear for dialogue. Especially the “what’s her major”, “Is she going to law school”, “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.

Shiva Baby

Her Calling Card

Yet, for all it’s pleasures “Shiva” seems like exactly what it is- an extended short. Seligman is very talented and this is her calling card. Eight minutes was too short but this is, deservedly, getting her noticed.

Shiva Baby

Cheers To Our Four Very Talented Actresses.

Finally, a toast from that appetizing buffet table, to four very talented actresses. Sennott, who is in virtually every scene, is marvelous throughout. Draper, as the Jewish mother from heaven and hell simultaneously, nails it. Gordon is just about perfect as the bemused yet concerned ex-girlfriend. And Argon, spending the entire film with a crying baby, still manages to be the embodiment of chic with a stare that could turn you to stone.

SHIVA BABY IS AVAILABLE FOR STREAMING ON HBO MAX.

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