SHIVA BABY – Review

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Emma Seligman packs her directorial debut like a horror film, with Ariel Marx’s uncomfortable tone-building music, as well as a few moments where two characters cross paths who appear like friendly versions of a jump scare. But Shiva Baby, as the development of a short film of the same name by Seligman, is a comedy. Even so, this comedy takes place, which for many people may be even scarier than a ghost: a family event. Top Movie Site

Shiva is celebrated by the Jews for a week as a form of mourning. Large families and relatives get together, but like any other family gathering (making the film feel universal), apart from sharing sadness, the event also becomes an arena for gossip. Where do you go to school? Which college do you study? What do you want to do? How come it’s just now? Where’s the girlfriend? When will you get married? Who is not disgusted by these series of questions?

Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is forced to come to fulfill the request of her parents (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed). Moreover, Danielle’s life is not something to be proud of in the eyes of the extended family. He was still confused about the future. In contrast to his ex-lover, Maya (Molly Gordon), who is determined to continue to law school. Danielle was surprised to learn of Maya’s presence, while her mother, who was at least more open-minded than the majority of her family members, warned, “No funny business with Maya”.

But Danielle has other funny business. The film opens by Danielle groans in the middle of sex. “Yeah daddy”, he said. Of course “daddy” here does not mean literal, but it refers to Max (Dany Deferrari), who is Danielle’s sugar daddy. Later, unexpectedly, Max will increase the pressure received by Danielle in the middle of the shiva. Likewise Kim (Dianna Agron), a successful businessman who comes with her baby. How these people are connected, I’m not going to divulge it.

At first, it was not easy to enjoy Shiva Baby, because Seligman’s efforts to provide an immersive experience, so that the audience could feel how confused Danielle’s heart was, among the boisterous questions that kept terrorizing her. It is not uncommon for the “chaos” to drown out the satirical power of humor. But over time, Seligman’s approach has increasingly demonstrated its superiority in terms of building atmosphere, as well as intensity. Best Movie

In addition to horror-style music, Seligman’s directing is capable of giving birth to a claustrophobic atmosphere, whether through the use of close-ups, visual effects (some distorted visions), to frantic editing methods to describe the pressure the protagonist is receiving from all directions. The closest comparison is to Trey Edward Shults ‘Krisha (2015) and Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems (2019).

Sennott did well to live up to the nervousness of a girl, who, like any other teenager, was swaying. There is confidence in his ability to do more, but at the same time, there is also doubt about that belief. Danielle, who studied gender in her school, initially believed that sexuality was a way of expressing empowerment. Then doubts got stronger, even at one point, driven by a personal ego, she played down the achievements of Kim as a career woman, which as a feminist, she should have “celebrated”.

Seligman offers an interesting empowerment perspective here. He provides a representation space for bisexual characters, throws criticism for parasitic men like Max (or we often call it “mokondo”), while conveying the reality that ironically, often fellow women (who are supposed to fight against repression) actually dwarf one another, corner, even drop. Before being intriguing (at the same time sweet and positive), inviting the audience to laugh at the common fate (this film was made based on Seligman’s personal experience), as if while saying, “Well, family will stick together no matter what, right?”. Movie Review

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