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  • Gareth Crook

Shiva Baby (2020) - 6/10

A shiva is often described as a Jewish wake. I’ve been to a few wake’s and a few shiva’s, they really aren’t the same but that’s probably not important. Nobody seems to care all that much about the deceased or the family here. The shiva is more of a vehicle to bring people together in situations they’d rather not be in. Darkly comedic situations that are wince inducing as they are funny. It’s pretty trope laden, with a rather uncomfortable amount of stereotypes. Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is not the well behaved high achiever that her parents would like her to be able to boast about. She’s bored, awkward and quite lost. Her parents are pushy and overly concerned about their only daughter, or concerned about her future. Danielle finds herself in the most awkward of social situations with ex girlfriends, current clients from her secret job. An endless string of reminders that Danielle’s life is, if not a mess, certainly not what her parents want for her. The film isn’t a mess though. It’s structured pretty well and although Danielle isn’t especially nice, we do start to feel a little sorry for her and Sennott plays her well. The chaotic tension swirling around her, threatening to blow its lid at any second. For all it’s unlikely set ups, it’s quite understated, well shot, wonderfully scored. It’s good and I’m interested to see more of Sennott and feature debut director Emma Seligman who’ve developed this from a 2018 short. Definitely ones to watch.



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