Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lisa D'Apolito's documentary LOVE, GILDA tracks the career of a popular 1970s comedian

Gilda Radner was a very big name during the 1970s and 80s, appearing  regularly on Saturday Night Live (SNL) from 1975-80, doing her own one-woman show on Broadway, and finally appearing in some flop movies toward the end of her career. For fans of this popular comedian -- and there are many now in or approaching their senior years -- LOVE, GILDA, the new bio-documentary directed by Lisa D'Apolito, will probably be a "must."

Although Radner herself wrote a memoir, It's Always Something, which was published almost immediately after her untimely death from ovarian cancer in 1989, this new documentary should provide further insight ont and enjoyment from this funny, goofy gal.

Ms D'Apolito, shown at right, weaves a nice tapestry of archival photos and film/video, interviews with other comedians (often of the SNL ilk), friends and relatives who, together with the information gleaned from Gilda herself (she was quite prone to writing/diary-keeping) that provides a pretty decent look into the life and career of a special performer.

As to whether the movie will provide non-fans or younger generations unfamiliar with Radner (shown above and below) an understanding of what made the comic special, TrustMovies is not sure.

The snippets we see of her performing are so brief and all-over-the-place that those who don't know and love her various "characters" -- all or most from her SNL days -- may miss that special appeal. They are likely to come away from the film with more of a sense of how "problemed" she was rather than how funny she could be.

We learn about her various relationships (mostly failed) culminating in the one -- with actor/comedian Gene Wilder (above, right) -- that proved the best for her in terms of love, companionship and caring, if not perhaps creativity or artistry.

Among the celebrities interviewed are Melissa McCarthy (above), Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Chevy Chase and Lorne Michaels (below), each of whose remarks add to the sense of (mostly deserved) hagiography that consistently builds here.

Radner's life, at least as shown here -- plagued by eating disorders and the kind of low-self-esteem that she found it easiest to make fun of first, before others beat her to the punch (the kind of self-deprecating humor that current popular comedian Hannah Gadsby claims to have sworn off for good) -- was more sad than funny, something to be surmounted, rather than enjoyed.

From Magnolia Pictures and running 88 minutes, the documentary opens this Friday nationwide in a limited rollout. Here in South Florida, you can see it at the Lake Worth Playhouse, the Living Room Theater in Boca Raton, and the O Cinema, Miami Beach. Wherever you live, click here to locate the theaters nearest you.

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