Love, Gilda (2018) – Review

Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films will release Love, Gilda in theaters September 21st.

By Elazar Abrahams

There’s the beloved image of Gilda Radner: fearless, passionate, and iconic. And then, there are shades of Radner the public wasn’t privileged to know, beyond her beloved Saturday Night Live characters: the Radner who struggled with success, fame, relationships, and a battle with ovarian cancer.

In Love, Gilda, director Lisa D’Apolito uses rare personal recordings and journal entries to tell Radner’s story in her own words. Along the way, friends and admirers, including Amy Poehler, Cecily Strong, Lorne Michaels, and a host of others, offer their most cherished memories of this brilliant trailblazer. What results is a touching tribute to and a fascinating contemplation of the comedian’s enduring cultural impact.

I did not know much about Radner before watching this documentary. I was familiar with her more famous SNL characters, but she was a celebrity before my time. Minutes after this film ended, I was searching for old clips of Gilda on YouTube and ordering her autobiography (published two weeks after her death) on Amazon.

Love, Gilda’s linear narrative tracks Radner’s life through her own recordings, creating a truly special hour or so. Pretty much everything is covered, be it her eating disorder or husband, Gene Wilder. My favorite segment is the post-credits scene, where famous fans like Melissa McCarthy and Bill Hader read aloud from Radner’s diary.

If you are even remotely interested in this documentary, be sure to catch its limited theatrical run. When it airs on CNN later this year, expect lots of censored words.

I give Love, Gilda an A-.

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