Shiva Baby is the 2021 feature film directorial debut of Emma Seligman, who adapts the film from her 2018 short film of the same name. This indie situational dark comedy is an assured, simple, yet effectively amusing 78-minute film, with performances that elevate its slight plot. With snappy dialogue and a biting screenplay, Shiva Baby's one-location setup feels real, even if the movie clearly feels like it was adapted from a short film. Much of that credit is due to the fantastic ensemble at the center of the film as well, including a very funny and engaging turn from Rachel Sennott, who channels the anxieties and frustrations her character feels in this very uncomfortable situation. Shiva Baby is not groundbreaking, but its wit and originality crackle through in this deftly crafted feature debut.
The performances of the film constantly help the situations of the movie feel real and lived-in. Rachel Sennott is convincing and funny as Danielle, and the film cleverly orients the storytelling, cinematography, and editing from her perspective, making the film's plot points feel all the more authentic. Polly Draper and Molly Gordon are great supporting performers for the film as well, and the entire group of extended family and friends depicted in the movie add humor and realism to the film.
Ultimately, Shiva Baby is a film with a fairly simply premise and therefore, the proceedings of the movie can sometimes feel repetitive. Nevertheless, writer/director Seligman's understanding of the different characters, in conjunction with the performers' solid work, turn even the simplicity and sparseness of Shiva Baby into a story full of interesting characters, humorous possibilities, and even moments of genuine dramatic tension. This is a very good calling card for first-time feature director Emma Seligman, who delivers a confident and promising debut.
|Final Verdict:||Shiva Baby is not particularly groundbreaking, but writer/director Emma Seligman brings wit and originality to this simple but effective film.|