Shiva Baby Review Movie
Shiva Baby Review
Shivas are atypically awkward social gatherings to celebrate the recently deceased, that are supposed to be sad, but they are social gatherings nonetheless. Prior to and following prayers, you share your condolences, chat with people you've not seen in a while and maybe never ever wanted to, and then take a bite to eat. In a different film, the shiva could be only a few minutes, but in this one it's 70 minutes in real-time. The director Emma Seligman runs with it by tackling the awkwardness with a smile.
Danielle (Sennott) Sennott is at a crossroads on the brink of change, and not sure who or what she really is. When she goes to the shiva, her confusion is brutally amplified as she is repeatedly pounded by well-meaning well-wishers who ask questions giving advice, and even criticizing her, either unknowingly or not. Ex-girlfriend (Molly Gordon) is present. She then goes to the sugar dad Max (Deferrari) who she had previously had a sexual relationship with. She then discovers that Max is married. Then she finds out there's a baby. They also show up. It's not a great situation. Then, more and chaos erupts the Nice Jewish Girl(tm) is left with her good-looking façade at risk of being destroyed. In the presence of crowds and conventions the day is an absolute nightmare.
This is an excellent and hilarious exercise in tension.
Shiva Baby isn't autobiographical but it's a tribute to Seligman's experience as a bisexual Jew who, a few years ago, had difficult times and briefly, attempted to sugar. Because of this, with her sane screenplay, subtle camerawork and naturalistic performances the film is authentic and also explores the genre: it's a toned tension that mixes the genres of farce, drama and horror, though with a very familiar kind. As Danielle's state of mind is teetering, Seligman sticks with her throughout, observing everything from her fragile eyes. People who are good become grotesques smiling and laughing. The house is transformed into a kind like a ghost train with innocent people appearing out of thin air blocking escape routes Ariel Marx's unsettling, discordant score — much like Penderecki's klezmer increases in volume, the strings are pluck and squealed like nails on the blackboard.
In the midst of the storm, is Sennott an absolute comic who has comedy coursing through her, but she does it in real time. There's not a single frame in which she doesn't appear terribly uncomfortable. The film and her performance itself are fascinating study of anxiety and insecurity. Shiva Baby truly rumbles along and the stakes increase with each passing second, similar to an elastic band stretched out slowly. Then, that it will snap. If the time comes, might snaps too fast — There's a lot happening at this shiva. But it's the emotion that is what keeps it going with the drama being balanced with the soul, and all in the service of what Seligman says about her plight as an identity crisis. This is an amazing and hilarious way to deal with tension, as well as an extremely compassionate look at young women who is on the brink of breaking to pieces. It's as comforting as is hilarious.