It was very tragic when Gilda Radner died at the age of 42 after a long bout with cancer. “Love, Gilda” is a love letter that demonstrates over and over again through great clips how fabulously funny she could be and the loss her public suffered.
The array of characters she portrayed on “Saturday Night Live” justly earned her an army of fans. Directed by Lisa D’Apolito, “Love, Gilda” is fortunate to have many clips of the star’s childhood and growing up days. We get to see her early talent for mimicry and her urge to make people laugh.
But the film also shows a downside of her life when she developed an eating disorder. Like many performers, she suffered elements of self-doubt. The film duly records her various romantic relationships that didn’t work out, but she seems to have found happiness with her marriage to Gene Wilder, only to have that liaison interrupted by cancer.
It is sad to see her wracked by the illness, but she was trying to set a brave example for others. Her sense of humor was always close to the surface.
There wasn’t anyone quite like Radner in her ability to raise comic havoc on camera with whichever character she embodied at the moment, and by watching her in action in a variety of settings, we can appreciate her ability to let herself go. The film is enhanced by comments by notables who knew her and worked with her. In short, Radner was a tremendous talent and is missed for her performances as well as for her as a courageous person.
“Love, Gilda” sets the record straight and allows us to enjoy her all over again. A Magnolia Pictures release. Reviewed September 21, 2018.