Shiva Baby Is Unsympathetic & Overrated

Shiva Baby

Starring  Rachel Sennott as Danielle,Molly Gordon as Maya,Danny Deferrari as Max,Polly Draper as Debbie,Fred Melamed as Joel

Directed  by  Emma Seligman

Rating: **

 Every critic abroad seems to love this film about  the most unloveable heroine I’ve seen since  Kate Hudson in How To Lose  A  Guy In Ten days. This  is  How To Lose A  Guy During A  Shiva.

Let me  hasten add that this Shiva has  nothing  to with our Hindu God . This Shiva refers to the Jewish custom of  mourning the dead  for a week. Danielle(Rachel Sennott) is  Jewish…and bi-sexual. Just like the  film’s director  . So it would be  fairly accurate to suppose  that  Rachel Sennott is  playing the  director.

 Having got that  out of the way,let’s just saw what  follows is interesting only if  you are gossipy and  Jewish,  probably both. The sweaty  hustle  and   the  bewildering bustle  at  the Shiva  is   captured in abbreviated shots which cut from one  guest to another  without giving  us pause to analyze  what exactly they feel.

We do  know that Danielle’s innerwear  is in a  bit of  of  a wedge. She  has just finished having sex with her professor Max  when she must accompany her  parents like  a dutiful  virgin daughter , to the Shiva  where she  bumps  into Max , his  beautiful wife and their bawling baby. The  feminine gaze on male deception is sharp, as are some of  the  conversation that defines Danielle’s place  at  the party, and beyond  it  at large. But these snatches  of  disconnected conversation tell us  nothing about the character’s feelings.

  The feeling of  a whole congregation  of people  together in an over-crowded  room saying things  about one  another that mean  absolutely nothing to us,  leaves  us with  a claustrophobic feeling of having stepped into  a landmine of  loquacity  that  leads  to nothing productive.

Danielle to begin  with is  a tiresome  teenager who thinks it is cool  to roll one’s eyes every time Mama explains how to behave or Papa points the right way. Danielle may not agree.  But it seems her life is a huge mess .The Shiva  only accentuates  her shortcomings. She locks herself  in the bathroom and sends  a sexy selfie to  poor  Max in  front of his wife and the bawling baby…I call  him “poor” only  in comparison with the totally unsympathetic  portrayal  of  the heroine.Whether  it is the young actress  who has  failed  or  it is the character that lets down  the plot by being nothing but a selfcentred brat, we will never know.

Thankfully we only have  to spend 77  minutes with Danielle. They seem  like an eternity. But  then I may be wrong. ‘Eternity’ is not quite the words that fits into the mood of this sweaty messy talkathon.

 The  best part of  the  fidgety farce is the  end when Danielle’s father tries to squeeze  in all the main characters into his roomy car while  leaving the Shiva. Cramped together in  the backseat is Danielle and her estranged girlfriend Maya now happily reconciled, holding hands. It is  the only tender moment in this  brittle, brackish  brew of  the bawling baby and   the Jew.

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