You know that feeling of pure embarrassment? Specifically social gathering embarrassment? Well, Emma Seligman’s debut feature Shiva Baby expertly translates that feeling to the screen. Actually, it pummels you like a sledgehammer, causing both laughs and anxiety. It’s rare to see a movie as short as 77 minutes achieve its full potential, but the film’s themes are realised and clear within the time given. The film follows bisexual student, Danielle, through an intensely awkward day, where she encounters her ex-girlfriend and sugar daddy (who’s married of course) at a family funeral service.
Shiva Baby is full of amazing direction, acting and features a fantastic score. Seligman’s camerawork is tight and claustrophobic to watch, maximising every opportunity to immerse us in second-hand embarrassment for Danielle. Rachel Sennott performs the character amazingly with every rude and crass mannerism fitting well for her character, as well as the rest of the cast being spectacular and full of energy. The score is also straight out of a horror movie with shrieking violins, tapping bass and fast tempo all around. All these features culminate to the horrific socially awkward and anxiety-inducing ride we’re subject to, which surprisingly has many comedic bits to bust your gut to. The movie also explores personal experiences within the Jewish community in an earnest, honest manner, while maintaining clear focus on the excellent, uncomfortable tension at the centre of the narrative.
“Eight out of ten, my jaw has been tense ever since.”