Film Review: Shiva Baby

A move from stand-up into TV and film is often a natural career progression for comedians. Whilst many have made this journey, it requires a very different skillset and few become regulars on our cinema screen. Steve Martin, Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams are probably the most famous examples. While it certainly helps that she studied acting, Rachel Sennott’s transition from the alt circuit looks to be fairly seamless and, as Shiva Baby demonstrates, likely to be very successful.

On the cusp of graduation and without any clear plan for her life, Danielle (Sennott) is stressed and a little rudderless. Running late for a shiva due to meeting her sugar daddy Max (Danny Deferrari), the part-time babysitter is a little frazzled by the time she meets her parents (Fred Melamed and Polly Draper). She’s politely enduring the usual family scrutiny and comparison with her law school bound ‘friend’ Maya (Molly Gordon), when her piggy bank arrives with his beautiful wife (Dianna Agron) and baby.

Shiva Baby is a beautifully handled culture comedy which thrives on a sense of urgency and wanton disarray. Emma Seligman’s mix of irreverent humour and cutting, angular dialogue will leave you breathless and panting for more. It works so well thanks to Sennott’s undoubted charisma, clever cinematography and editing and a brilliant supporting cast. Shiva Baby is a smart and sassy portrait of a woman on the edge.

Shiva Baby is in US cinemas and on TVOD on 2 April

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