For many, the power of comedians cannot be understated, and director Lisa Dapolito clearly understands that fact with her latest, most ambitious documentary yet, Love, Gilda, centered around iconic SNL star Gilda Radner. Using a method of storytelling that is both bold and ambitious, Love, Gilda provides a harrowing view of one of the first women to truly capture the star-studded audience of SNL and her journey past the neon stage.
Immediately as the film begins, it becomes immediately clear just how reverent Dapolito and her fellow crew members are towards the subject material. Using real-life clips from documentaries and skits where she was featured, Radner is seen in a perspective that feels both authentic and faithful to what fans of that period experienced. The clips that are present do a wonderful job of depicting the personal life of Radner, in addition to her iconic stage life. It’s a finely tuned balance of themes, executing a stringy complexion of both her fame and inner struggles. Ultimately, it proves an ambitious take on the story, one that is sometimes soured by some choppy editing between sequences. Often times, it feels as if Love, Gilda simply can’t decide what it truly wants to be, especially towards the final half, where the balance between its sequences feels off-putting at the very least.
But these issues simply aren’t enough to dismay what is an impressive documentary. Director Lisa Dapolito clearly understood what made the character of Radner such a compelling one and used that knowledge to her great advantage. The film smartly chooses sequences that are most critical to the story, never allowing itself to overstate its welcome, a bold choice given the dense subject matter present in the pivotal third act. For fans of the SNL star, Love, Gilda is an impressive, riveting but cluttered experience that proves to be a faithful and compelling stance on Gilda Radner, celebrated SNL star.
Score: 7.3 out of 10