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Though the film boasts an excellent central performance by Rachel Sennott, it would be wrong to label Shiva Baby as a one of a kind original.

Shiva Baby isn’t the first movie to take place at a funeral service - in this case a Jewish shiva – nor is it the first that employs plenty of sarcasm to deal with a variety of secrets and surprises at the family gathering. It would thus be wrong to label the film as a one of a kind original, as many other reviewers have done.

What the movie does have going for it is an excellent central performance by Rachel Sennott, who deftly balances on the tightrope between comedy and tragedy as she is forced to confront her inner demons and the harsh judgement of her family members and friends.

Is that enough to keep you glued to the screen throughout the blissfully brisk 75 minutes the movie lasts? Not quite. Shiva Baby has a too predicable narrative for that, a tempo that hardly varies and a moral message that you can see a mile off.

Perhaps the picture is a more layered, relatable delight for people better versed in Jewish traditions. As I am not though, I can only call Shiva Baby an interesting diversion but not much more than that.

release: 2020

director: Emma Seligman

starring: Rachel Sennott, Danny Deferrari, Fred Melamed, Polly Draper


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