Shiva Baby (2021)

Directed by Emma Seligman

College student Danielle must cover her tracks when she unexpectedly runs into her sugar daddy at a shiva - with her parents, ex-girlfriend and family friends also in attendance.

Oh look, she's eating.

Some of the throwaway asides you can barely hear in the sound mix have that kind of Arrested Development feel of "we'll just throw this in very low-key and without insisting on the joke at all… yet it'll actually be the funniest thing you've heard all day". However staged, these parts are certainly effective. I just wish we had less of the overworked 'protagonist is feeling very claustrophobic and anxious right now' visual effects.


Shiva Baby focuses heavily on bodies as conduits through which sex and social performance can be explored. There is the central dead body, which unites these grieving, gossiping community members under a single roof. There is Danielle’s body, which she shares with Max in exchange for feelings of autonomy and money. But in addition to the premise and the protagonist, Seligman uses Shiva Baby’s setting to serve as an additional living body in the film.


The film is less interested in the act of sex itself and more interested in the ways that sex, like other social activity, can be riddled with performativity—gestures and flourishes that would not appear were there not an audience that a person felt pressured to please. [A]lthough Shiva Baby is a film about a young woman’s relationship to sexuality, access to her body is not something an audience must be granted for the heart of the story to translate. Although we are denied that visual access and the implicit consumption of Sennott’s body, Danielle’s relationship to food in the film is a superb surrogate for sexual pleasure and consumption.

Adesola Thomas (Paste Magazine)


It could have been partly inspired by the party scene at the beginning of The Graduate, the one where smug oldsters tell Dustin Hoffman’s character he should be getting into plastics.

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)