Shiva Baby

It’s a small world. For Danielle (Rachel Sennott), her world gets real small, real fast in Emma Seligman’s short film, Shiva Baby.

I don’t want to get into a great deal of detail regarding Shiva Baby’s plot because it’s best viewed from start to finish. The film’s published synopsis is: “At a Jewish funeral service with her parents, a college student, Danielle, runs into her sugar daddy, Max (Jason Kellerman).

“…masterfully crafts a character before your eyes with minimal and seemingly unimportant dialogue…”

The basic idea behind Shiva Baby is short and sweet, especially at seven minutes. Danielle goes to the Shiva, she runs into her sugar daddy, and things become awkward. While this is often brought to the screen as a comedic sketch, writer/director Seligman plays it as a character study.

Shiva Baby works because the film opens with the climax, so to speak, of Danielle’s morning tryst. In the next six minutes, Seligman creates an efficient character study of Danielle including who she is, her family dynamic, and her insecurities. She packs a big punch, enough to elicit maximum emotional impact at the end. She masterfully crafts a character before your eyes with minimal and seemingly unimportant dialogue and effective visual storytelling.

Shiva Baby (2018) Written and directed by Emma Seligman. Starring Rachel Sennott and Jason Kellerman.

4 out of 5 stars

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