Scenes At The Shiva (Film thoughts: Shiva Baby)

Forget ‘Godzilla vs King Kong,’ because I think ‘Shiva Baby’ is the most thriller-like, stressful movie of the year. And it’s also intelligent and smart, and funny – all the things you are looking for in a movie.

Set in a funeral, Emma Seligman’s film is about Danielle (Rachel Sennott) who is just about to graduate from College. She is invited by her mother to sit shiva on someone she vaguely recalls but doesn’t really know. She is just coming from her sugar daddy, and doesn’t want to face all her relatives, who make a big fuss about her marital status, her college degree, her weight. Of course, when she gets there, she is accosted by her ex-girlfriend, and surprise of all surprises, her sugar daddy shows up, accompanied by his wife and child. Are we having fun yet?

We are. Seligman captures the stress of the situation, with tight shots that make us feel as claustrophobic as the main character. It all adds up to a big boil of a climax, and then tempered down by ridiculous humor. The acting is superb all around – Sennott is magnificent, able to relay all emotions at the same time flawlessly. And the pace is crisp and brisk – so much happens in 77 minutes. This is a must-see.

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