“Shiva Baby”


Metacritic (7/10), Rotten Tomatoes (***+)

We’ve all had those uncomfortably embarrassing moments where we’d like to run away and hide – but can’t. And director Emma Seligman’s debut feature brings that concept front and center in this wry but hilarious, laugh-out-loud comedy about a young Jewish college student/”working girl” who attends a shiva filled with unexpectedly awkward moments involving her parents, a snarky onetime friend, and her primary client, a young sugar daddy who ends up being full of surprises. As the protagonist wrestles with the dirt that others have dug up about her, she simultaneously seeks to manage the equally damning secrets that she subsequently unearths about them during what is supposed to be a respectful, solemn event, one that itself is loaded with a boatload of cultural-based laughs. The rampant discomfort here is effectively brought to life by the fine lead performance of Rachel Sennott, coupled with an excellent supporting cast highlighted by Fred Melamed and Polly Draper, as well as a suitably dissonant background score and sound design. Admittedly, there are a few sequences that tend to drag slightly and an ending that feels a little underdeveloped, but these minor faults are more than made up for by everything else this wickedly delightful little indie gem has to offer. So pass the lox, bagels and cream cheese already.