CREDIT: Magnolia Pictures

This review was originally posted on News Cult in September 2018.

Starring: Gilda Radner

Director: Lisa Dapolito

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: Unrated, But Basically PG-13 Territory for an Honest Examination of a Showbiz Life

Release Date: September 21, 2018 (Limited)

Love, Gilda is not the most formally inventive documentary, but do you need to break the mold when the subject is this delightful? Gilda Radner, one of SNL‘s original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, has been an inspiration to a generation (or two) of comedians who have followed, a source of pleasure to anyone who has seen her perform, and a dear friend to anyone who spent quality time with her. As long as a biographical doc can capture her spirit, it ought to be considered a success. And Lisa Dapolito’s Love, Gilda certainly meets that necessary criterion.

The formula is typical showbiz bio-doc fare, with a few unique flourishes. You’ve got your chronological timeline, starting with the home movies from childhood, moving on to the rarely seen early performance footage, and then clips from some of the most beloved credits. Interspersed are interviews with relatives, friends, collaborators, and admirers. Recent and current SNL performers like Amy Poehler and Bill Hader are given the special treat of flipping through Gilda’s personal journals. That strong sense of intimacy is present throughout the film. All biographical documentaries are by their nature intimate, but Love, Gilda is a special instance that is particularly self-aware about it. We don’t just get to learn that Gilda was put on diet pills at age 10, and discover the details of her romances, and get to see footage of her at home and in the hospital from when she was dying of ovarian cancer. We also get to hear her recite her most personal notes as we learn how important it was to her to share everything she had with the world. Gilda Radner was one of those people who tried to make this Earth a happier place, and now we have recorded evidence of her efforts assembled into a package that is sure to make plenty of people happy.

Love, Gilda is Recommended If You Like: Gilda Radner, of course

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Personal Journals