Shiva Baby is a high-tension dark comedy with a key focus on naturalism. The story is very simple, but every theme that’s explored is done so with a respectable amount of restraint. This is impressive due to how silly the story can be at points.
The story follows Danielle (Rachel Sennott) as she attends a Jewish funeral with her family. She finds herself being constantly compared to Maya (Molly Gordon) who’s seemingly a better version of her in every way. The topic of her bisexuality is constantly brought up, which angers her not due to the uncomfortable nature of these remarks, but more so because of the fact that it brings back memories of the time that she spent with Maya in her youth.
What sets the story into motion is when she meets someone whom she did not expect to see there. Meeting this person forces her to create many lies about her life in order to get out of many altercations with her family; not disappointing them is something that she constantly prioritises due mainly to Maya.
Throughout the film, there’s a strong sense of tension that is brought about when Danielle starts to tell her lies. Many scenes start quite normal, but through gradual colour changes and cleverly used music, they devolve into chaos rather quickly. The comedy is strong as well. The setups of many scenes lead into some darkly comedic story beats, further pushing Danielle’s family’s evaluation of her onto herself.
Overall, Shiva Baby is a well-acted, fast-paced comedy that has so much happening that it could even be described as a thriller. The brief 70 minutes that are shown of Danielle’s family go to show the chaos that even the simplest of life events can have within them.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.