Adelaide Film Festival 2020: Shiva Baby

What: Shiva Baby
Where: Palace Nova Cinemas
When: Final showing Sunday 25th October 5:15pm and Wednesday 28th October 8:15pm

Rachel Sennott as Danielle

Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is a typical, 20-something Jewish woman living in New York. What she lacks in self-direction, her overbearing parents are attempting to make up for. In Shiva Baby, we are dropped into her life as she attends shiva for a distant family member, along with her parents (who are attempting to find her a job), her ex-girlfriend Maya (who Danielle hasn’t heard from in awhile and still has feelings for), her Sugar Daddy Max (who has turned up with his wife and baby) and a whole host of family members who can’t stop pinching her waist. Get ready to feel uncomfortable.

Shiva Baby was a ride packed with laughs and deep cringe. Director and writer Emma Seligman has succeeded in her goal of bringing every awkward family function you’ve attended to mind. We feel for Danielle, helpless amongst the chaos of her extended family who are each desperate to know what she’s doing with her life and anxious to give her advice. She lurches from awkward moment to awkward moment, spilling drinks, crying babies, flirty (ex-)lovers, and demanding relatives at her with every turn. The claustrophobia of the many quick conversations baring both on her and us.

As the pressure cooker intensifies, Danielle’s lies begin to stack up. Ariel Marx’s soundtrack helping to build the tension alongside fast paced and sometimes erratic camera work. With a relatively short run time, the tension comes to a head at the end. We leave relieved, but still willing to sit through it all over again.

4½ out of 5 stars

Natalie Carfora

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