‘Love, Gilda’ Review: An honest and inspiring story of one of the funniest women of all time
Gilda Radner became a household name since the 70s and fans are finally getting an intimate, inside look into a life that ended too soon.
In an extremely visceral form of storytelling, director and documentarian Lisa D’Apolito was given the honor of taking Gilda Radner’s old journals and home videos and turning it into a film about her life. Even though Radner’s life was cut short, she lived more lives than most people ever will, and each aspect of her unique life is portrayed in the film.
The film starts off by exploring her life as a child in a well-off family in Detroit in the 1950s. Radner had her first touch of success in a Canadian production of "Godspell," which is where she met Martin Short. One of the most fascinating parts of this documentary is that Radner, in a way, tells her own story through written word and home videos. Many were shocked to find out that Radner and Short were not only creatively entwined, but also romantically.
Through interviews and clips of home videos, the audience is able to truly get a sense of who Radner was, a goofy, insecure young woman who craved validation and loved to make people laugh.
The part of Radner’s life that everyone is always the most fascinated by is the ‘SNL’ days. Radnor played a critical role in establishing the foundation of the most famous comedy showcase on television, and this still rings true today. Some of her best friends (and lovers) were from the SNL crew including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Dan Aykroyd.
Everyone loved Radner. The men wanted to be with her, and the women wanted to be her. But there was a sense of sadness behind her funny facade that showed itself in her fickle interest in men and an eating disorder which almost took her life. Most people know about her struggle with food, but what many didn’t know was that as a child she was bullied for being overweight.
Through the photos and videos shared in the film of Radner’s childhood, she is not at all what you would imagine. She eventually grew into her body, which was petite and slim, but the pressures of Hollywood ended up getting to her, causing her to be so frail she was hospitalized several times.
Despite her struggles, Radner was far from done with Hollywood and went on to star in films and even had her own Broadway show. After a whirlwind romance with fellow actor Gene Wilder, the two got married and truly were the loves of each other's lives. Which is what made this part of the film so difficult to watch, because as we all know, Radner died of Ovarian cancer in 1989 leaving behind a devastated Wilder.
Through D’Apolito’s charming yet heart-wrenching depiction of one of the biggest female comedy legends of all time, the audience gets to know Radner in a way they never did before. Some of Radner’s old friends and co-stars appeared in the film including Lorne Michaels, Laraine Newman, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.
However one of the most riveting parts of the film was to hear Gilda’s voice reading her old journal entries, essentially narrating her own documentary from the beyond. Other comedy icons that didn’t know Radner but whose career was inspired by hers appeared in the film including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Bill Hader.
The film ends on a melancholy yet inspirational note, exploring the foundation that Wilder started after his wife’s passing called Gilda’s Club. GCNYC opened its iconic Red Doors in 1995 to provide a place where cancer patients and their families could find support, resources, and a community that cares. Since then the foundation has had so much success that it now has a presence worldwide, which is exactly what Gilda would have wanted.
Make sure to go see the beautiful and tragic story of Gilda Radner unfold on the big screen. currently in select theaters nationwide.