“Just try to behave yourself today,” his mother pleaded. But alas, the great forces of the universe appear to be working against Danielle (Rachel Cenotte), who explodes all the possible land mines of her life in Emma Seligman’s nerve-racket comedy “Shiva Baby, while simultaneously exploding into a family friend’s Shiva.” Finds it out. “
Danielle is feeling particularly aimless; Her parents are still paying her bills, and the money she tells them she gets from having a baby is, in fact, a “Chinese grandmother” (an older man who pays her for sexual favors and attention Pay) is contributed by. She is already ranked by the interrogation of family friends, and the unexpected appearance of an ex-girlfriend (Molly Gordon) when her primary donor (Danny Deferri) walks in the door – his heretical wife (Diana Agron) and Tow Child in
Seligman’s screenplay’s solo location and demolished time frame give it the efficiency of a well-constructed stage drama. But Daniel’s ordeal is as tense as any thriller, with tense little talk, delicate camera-cork, clunky, sound effects and small talk augmented by a raunchy, controversial musical score, abundant side-by-side and unreleased gossip. It is rare for a film to balance such a distracting tone, to make the big laughs balance with the gutsy disturbances, but Seligman shrugs it off.
His cast helps. Sanhot is a revelation, and it matters; She carries a lot of the weight of the picture on her face, and its ability to express increased levels of stress and death reactions. She is surrounded by some of the best character actors in the game (including a standout twist from Fred Meldam as her father), while she and Gordon beautifully convey the pain, anger and leftover warmth of their relationship.
Seligman piles on the complexities of a Rube Goldberg machine with clock accuracy, but never in the service of real feelings at the core of the picture. Near the conclusion, Danielle surrenders to the sheer helplessness of being completely overwhelmed, a moment that perhaps lands with more impact after a year of mass isolation and fear. “Shiva Baby” knows that feeling, and has another key to it: In between nonstop tension and distraction, a moment of calm, unreleased tenderness can make all the difference.
Not rated. Running Time: 1 hour 17 minutes. Available in select theaters and for rent or purchase Apple TV, Google Play And other streaming platforms and payment TV operators. Please consult guidelines Outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.