“Shiva Baby” (2021): One Wacky Wake


Nearing college graduation, Danielle hastily gets paid by her sugar daddy and rushes to meet her neurotic parents at a family shiva. Upon arrival, she is accosted by various estranged relatives about her appearance and lack of post-grad plans, while her confident ex-girlfriend, Maya, is roundly congratulated for getting into law school. Danielle’s day takes an unexpected turn when her guy on the sly, Max, arrives at the shiva with his ultra-accomplished wife, Kim, and crying baby. As the day unfolds, Danielle struggles to keep up different versions of herself, fend off pressures from her family and confront her insecurities without COMPLETELY losing her shit.

The Good

Exceptional and engaging ensemble performances right straight across the board.  Everybody is entirely on their game and uniformly nails their respective roles while just killing it with their lines.

The Bad

This is essentially a one-set flick shot inside an older suburban home. Things in these tight quarters can wear a little monotonous at times, though never near enough to be distracting nor detracting.

You don’t necessarily have to be to relate, however…

if you are Jewish you will recognize most, if not every single one, of the descendant dynamics and family falderol underfoot in this brilliant dramedy.  Even if you’re not of the faith, a huge hunk of what is dished out here is ripe to resonate on several levels.

Rachel Sennott

Comedian Rachel Sennott captivates in a feature film debut as Danielle, a put-upon, directionless young woman wobbling on the precipice of college graduation with faintly fuzzy focus on her future. The Jewish wake to which she is dragged along pays respects to a departed distant relative with whom she is, at best, only vaguely familiar.

And that’s when the Shiva really hits the fan.

Shenanigans Sitting Shiva

Hounded by her neurotic mom and dad (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed paired in pestering parent perfection), a former lover (Molly Gordon) and a gold digger husband and father with whom she’s having a tawdry tryst (Danny Deferrari), we watch as Danielle gamely struggles to summon beleaguered balance amidst claustrophobic chaos.

Along Danielle’s wayward way, we find ourselves cringing, co-experiencing, even crying. But mostly laughing.

Emma Seligman, herself a rookie here as a full-length flick screenwriter and director, has gifted us with an unflinching and unrelentingly entertaining fable of coming of age and finding one’s place in our so ofttimes unsettled universe.

Emma Seligman


You can’t help but wonder if what we are witnessing in “Shiva Baby” is at least somewhat semi-autobiographical. As the prime protagonist here, Sennott even bears striking physical resemblance to Seligman.

I have no idea if the record reflects this promising filmmaker’s own life or not.

One may merely muse, baby.

I invite you to enjoy all of my entertaining and eclectic film reviews as “The Quick Flick Critic”, continually updated at https://thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com/

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“Shiva Baby” (2021): One Wacky Wake
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7.75/10
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“Shiva Baby” (2021): One Wacky Wake

Exceptional and engaging ensemble performances right straight across the board.

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About John Smistad

I am a voracious writer of Movie Reviews. Check 'em out at my Blog, "The Quick Flick Critic", @: The Quick Flick Critic Thanks guys! John

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