Most movies I review on here are borderline painful to watch and it’s hard to find good things to say about them but Shiva Baby was, believe it or not, ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD. And queer. And well written and well acted and nobody is really wringing their hands over their sexuality, they’re just kind of bumping body parts over babka. I’m in love with this lil sweaty sticky funny horny movie!
First off, the music is perfect. It’s basically made of these haunting plucky strings that give the whole thing the energy of a horror film, only nobody ever dies. Well, physically, but we all spiritually die like 19 times.
In the opening scene, the main character, Danielle (Rachel Sennott), is having sex with some tall oafy dude on the couch. They abruptly wrap up and Danielle goes straight to her phone to listen to a voicemail from her mom, who’s at a funeral that Danielle should be at. She and tall guy have an awkward goodbye, he pays her, presumably for the sex, says something about the importance of supporting women, references putting her through law school, and gives her a bracelet.
Danielle is for some reason dressed like a school girl — prob to add to the horny vibes of the film. But also because she probably attends some kind of private institution but I was never a part of that culture so idk. She looks pretty miserable as she heads to the shiva, and runs into her parents outside by their utility van.
Her mom is cute and pushy and manic and believable. She gives Danielle a “sound bite” to tell people at the shiva, that she’s “finishing up finals and has a few job interviews lined up.” Even though in reality, she’s having sex with tall guy to put her through (we later learn) fictional law school. Then Danielle makes intense eye contact with a brunette who looks just like her, who’s also walking into the shiva. The brunette waves but Danielle doesn’t wave back.
“No funny business with Maya,” Danielle’s mom warns her, referring to the mystery brunette she just ignored. I would never think a shiva would be the place for any “funny business,” but honestly this movie has changed my mind. I’d for sure fuck somebody at a shiva now. Or at least send nudes.
Danielle has no idea who died but she’s pretending she’s grieving. Really she’s just nervously lingering by the buffet. There’s a lot of great stuff around food in this movie. She keeps putting things on her plate and taking them off. Her anxiety is palpable and works really well throughout the whole film. There are also a lot of tight shots and you can feel how crowded and uncomfortable the place is. By the end, you’re crawling out of your skin as much as Danielle.
While her mom and some other women discuss her potential eating disorder and how many times she’s changed her major, Danielle decides what to eat first. She tries to ignore Maya (Molly Gordon) at the buffet but Maya is like HI BITCH. Danielle congratulates her on getting into law school and Maya’s pissed it took her four months to do so. They definitely have the tension of two people who’ve banged before.
Danielle tells Maya she’s “babysitting,” instead of what she’s actually doing, and accuses her of enjoying the shiva because she gets to brag about going to law school. Maya has to remind her she’s not happy, she’s mourning. Danielle’s obviously jealous of Maya and also horny for her and bitter about something but we don’t know what yet.
After Maya walks away, Danielle unloads all the food she’s just spent time piling onto her plate, spoons some kind of slop in its place, and then quickly dumps it back into the bowl without eating any of it. It has the energy of “i don’t know what to do or anyone here or what to say and i feel like an alien in my body” which we can all relate to.
Just as Danielle’s mom is in the middle of telling her she looks like “Gwyneth Paltrow on food stamps,” the tall guy Danielle was boning earlier enters the shiva. Danielle looks like she wants to die. Then her mom recommends the tall guy help her get a job, and she drags Danielle over to talk to him. Her parents explain to tall guy that Danielle studies “gender business” and that’s how he finds out she’s not actually going to law school.
Their weird sexual tension is obvious, so Danielle’s mom drags her into the kitchen to tell her not to sleep with him. Why does her mom think she’s gonna fuck everybody at this shiva?? Danielle insists she won’t blow him in the bathroom, but we all know she’s probably gonna blow him in the bathroom. Her mom then drops the bomb that tall guy has a wife, a “shiksa goddess,” and Danielle looks like she wants to shiksa her pants.
She runs to the buffet and shoves a bagel in her face to feel better. As she horses down lox, she eavesdrops on tall guy’s convo with her parents. Her mom asks him about his baby and Danielle is further shocked. At that moment, the shiksa goddess enters with the baby (who remains consistently crying throughout the entire movie). Tall guy is pissed. Apparently babies at shivas are controversial. Danielle’s mom calls it “freakishly pale” which lol.
Tall guy goes to the buffet to get food for shiksa goddess, who is comforting the baby (who will not stfu). In a panic, Danielle starts talking to an old woman nearby. As the old lady is showing her pics of her grandson’s bar mitzvah suit, Danielle’s shoved into a table with an exposed nail and cuts herself, actually pretty deep. It’s a shocker she doesn’t scream out in agony tbh. Instead, she casually excuses herself to go clean her gaping wound in the bathroom.
While she’s in the bathroom, she removes her tights which ripped from the nail and starts taking selfies. Then she’s like “oh damn this lighting is good” and starts taking nudes and texts them to the tall guy.
Back downstairs, she watches tall guy and shiksa goddess play with their baby while another old lady asks about her job prospects. Maya is also there and recommends Danielle do something with the women’s march since she’s into women stuff and knitting. Then somebody’s kid throws up and Danielle jumps at the chance to clean it just so she can get away from everybody.
When Danielle bends over to clean the puke, her ass is out and everyone at the party is for some reason staring at her. Maya starts helping her and touches her leg and this old lady sees it and is like “oh i bet they’re fucking.”
In the toy room, Maya and Danielle stare at the shiksa goddess (played by Dianna Agron) and debate her hotness. Daneille is trying to protect her self esteem by being like “she’s sooo basic” but maya is realistic and is like “she actually kind of has a perfect face tho.” Then maya tells her shiksa goddess has like three businesses. Maya is trying to flirt a little with Danielle but Danielle’s too frazzled to notice.
Danielle is like I G2G and runs back out to the party where her mom is like “i thought you were done experimenting,” referring to her and Maya, which, Danielle points out, is a common misconception about bisexuals. And also rude! Another old lady chimes in about Danielle’s weight. (also rude!) This really does feel like a thousand family events I’ve been to.
Danielle’s parents tell shiksa goddess she’s just graduated and SG asks what college she’ll be going to lolll. Danielle says she’s graduating college and then SG offers her a job and Danielle says she doesn’t want it because she’s not in the girlboss culture and SG is like “right” lollll.
SG also explains that she’s working so hard so she can SUPPORT HER HUSBAND’S LIFESTYLE. I’m sorry what ma’am??? She’s like “him and his friends are foodies” and that’s why she needs to be the CEO of eight startups. Meanwhile, this POS is fucking undergrads in her second property! smh.
Danielle and SG notice they’re wearing the same bracelet, because tall guy got it for both of them. Dumbass. At this same moment, tall guy’s getting them all coffee, but also finally gets the nudes Danielle sent him and he’s so horned up he drops the coffee all over everybody, including the baby, but mostly Danielle. The baby starts screaming as if the entire pot has gone right into its little face.
Now Danielle is bleeding, tights-less, with a button down sopping wet with lukewarm coffee. But for some reason decides to stay?? Like maybe take off at this point?? You don’t even know the dead woman’s name ffs!! Instead, her mom helps her clean off and Danielle asks her if she’s disappointed in her. It looks like her mom wants to ask her who she’s fucking at this party but she doesn’t.
As Danielle and her mom are putting out chairs, presumably for the sitting part of sitting shiva, Maya is flirting with her, but, like, a little too hard. Know your worth, Maya! She’s really throwing herself at Danielle.
While they’re by the buffet, tall boy comes over and asks if they’re sisters. Okay, if your mistress is at the shiva, maybe AVOID HER AT ALL COSTS??? I love how bold this douche is.
Maya is p much like “we’re not sister’s we’ve fucked” and TB’s not sure what to say because honestly it’s a very awkward thing to say. And in his defense (idk why im defending him!) they do look like sisters. I understand not being ashamed of your sexuality but telling this man you gave me my first orgasm within earshot of 600 grandmothers crosses a line for me. Idk what maya’s end game is here but if she’s trying to see a titty it’s not working.
TB somehow convinces himself that because Danielle doesn’t need money (aka her parents are rich) she must be in love with him and sleeping with him out of pure passion. lolololol. He says this and she’s like “um k.” Then he asks if they’re “good” and she’s like “yeah sure whatever” and they go about their shiva separately.
A little later, TG goes upstairs to what appears to be the only bathroom in this three-story home, and Danielle follows him. There’s a really hot, suspenseful few minutes where you’re very sure she’s gonna blow him in the bathroom at this shiva — just like she promised her mom she wouldn’t — but (spoiler!!) she doesn’t. But it’s all still p hot!
After he gives her “the tap” on the shoulder and exits the bathroom, Danielle is (understandably) a lil humiliated and is like “okay time to go.” She tells her mom she wants to leave and her mom tells her to find her dad.
Sweaty and panicking and searching for her dad, Danielle is approached by yet another old lady, who talks about her weight and asks if her whole life is “studying and not eating and hanging out with your beautiful friends,” and Danielle’s like “yeah” and runs out the back door, where Maya is smoking a cigarette.
Maya tells her she misses her, which is obvi. Danielle says she misses her too and they kiss and it’s cutteeee. Then they quickly break away and run back inside because it’s not cool to be openly bisexual at this shiva.
Back inside and tipsy off shiva wine, Danielle decides to fuck with TB a little, by coming up to him and his wife as they look at photos with another incredibly old lady. She presses her thigh against TB’s leg as she eats a bagel and tells the older woman how happy she looks in the photos from her trip to the Holocaust Museum. Danielle asks how old SG and TB’s baby is and SG says 18 months.
Now SG is getting suspicious and is like “you guys met through your parents right?” talking about Danielle’s parents, and TB is quick to cover his ass and is like “yup” but Danielle is like “idk” and messes with them for a few minutes. It’s suspenseful and fun and you basically can’t really breath comfortably at any point throughout this entire movie.
Saving all of them, Danielle’s dad interrupts, asking her to help him find his phone. That’s when Danielle realizes she left her phone — and nudes and sugar daddy messages — in the bathroom. Maya is in the bathroom, and finds the phone, and is judgmental af. She hides the phone??? And doesn’t tell Danielle where it is and calls her a “fucking whore.” Ummmm okay??????
I understand maybe being caught off guard by the whole sugar daddy thing but the extra step of holding the phone hostage and leaving it somewhere so someone else could find it makes me think Maya is objectively a shitty person. But I honestly didn’t really like her thirsty ass up until now anyway.
They’re all kind of gathered around SG and TB’s baby —very Rosemary’s Baby vibes — and SG is telling them about her life with TB, which sounds miserable but rich (with money, not joy). She says they have an apartment in the city and a house in the ‘burbs. Danielle’s like “wish I had a fuck pad,” looking at TB, and her parents are like “whoops, she’s drunk.” Take this bitch home already my god!!
Then TB and Danielle are in the kitchen and TB’s like “we should end this” and it’s like LOL yeah prob. His wife sees them talking alone and is like “k we’re leaving” because it’s beyond sus at this point. It’s like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? only you can’t tell who’s fucking with who at any given moment.
Shiksa seems checked out. Like she doesn’t even care if he’s cheating on her at this point, she just wants him to nut in her a couple more times so she can have the family she always wanted, and he can go enjoy lobster tail with his foodie friends on her dime.
Of all people, SG finds Danielle’s phones. Danielle, natch, wants to pass away. But instead of confronting her, SG makes Danielle hold her baby? And Danielle holds it like a football she just caught mid-air. The poor thing is screaming its face off because it’s been at this shiva for six weeks. It’ll be getting its driver’s permit by the time they put this bitch in the ground.
For some odd reason, SG won’t let Danielle let go of the baby? Very unclear motivations here other than to be like “THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO DEAL WITH WHILE YOU BOUNCE ON HIS DICK ALL DAY BITCH.” I feel her but we also have to consider child safety, ya know?
Danielle and the football baby knock over a glass vase full of flowers and it shatters everywhere. Danielle starts sweeping the glass up with her hands and kissing the books that fell to the floor and sobbing. It’s clear the shiva has come to an end.
Her mom kneels down to see if she’s okay. She tells her she can move in with daddy and her and Danielle shouts NO lol. Maya also comes to comfort her but like please fuck off forever, Maya.
Danielle and Maya then take shiva leftovers to an old lady’s car and Maya’s like “just curious why do you do it im not judging.” Ummmm wut. Who is this pod person?? Danielle says she needed money and it was nice to feel powerful and appreciated, when really what she could’ve said was “mind your business.” Maya’s like “oh never thought of it that way” and it’s like yeah did you think about it at all before deciding to play with people’s literal lives????
To make it all as awkward as humanly possible, Danielle’s dad offers to drive Maya, her mom, SG, TB, their gigantic baby, and a gaggle of old ladies home in their van. They basically went from an uncomfortable, cramped shiva, to an even more cramped and uncomfortable car ride.
The baby doesn’t have a car seat so it’s once again screaming like it’s being set on fire. Maya and Danielle are sharing the backseat with an old lady. Maya slyly moves her hand over to Danielle’s and holds it during the car ride. It’s actually really cute and you forget what a cunt Maya was for a second.
Shiksa is looking at tall boy like “i made a huge mistake when i let you cum inside me.” Meanwhile, the childless bisexuals stare longingly into each other’s eyes in the backseat.