Title – Gleason (2016)
Director – Clay Tweel (Finders Keepers)
Cast – Steve Gleason, Michel Varisco-Gleason, Mike Gleason, Rivers Gleason
Plot – Diagnosed with ALS, ex-NFL star Steve Gleason alongside his wife Michel begin to document Steve’s battle with the condition in the form of video diaries for his unborn child, so that Steve can share with the child the things they will not able to when his disease worsens.
“I just want to be a real person”
Review by Eddie on 8/06/2017
An uncompromising and often unglamorous documentary, that is both a tough watch and a truly uplifting one; against all the odds, Gleason is one of the years must see-films and without doubt, one of the year’s most moving movie experiences.
Documenting the life of ex-NFL line-backer Steve Gleason, as the husband and soon to be father is diagnosed with the life threatening ALS disease, director Clay Tweel with help from producer and King of Kong helmer Seth Gordon have found themselves with unprecedented access to showcase the terrible nature of ALS and access also to the power of the human spirit and the love between family, in particular the bond between a father and his child and a husband and his wife.
Surrounded by a plethora of likeable and sincere human beings that is headlined by Steve’s wife Michel, whose relationship with Steve is the heart and soul of this film, Steve himself is a figure we instantly can connect with.
His down to earth nature and balanced views on life making him a fascinating subject matter as well as a haunting example of a human beings existence cruelled by the harsh realities of the cards they have been dealt.
Fuelled by his desire to help others, live his life to the fullest, whilst he still is able to and most importantly driven to give his child a part of himself he will soon no longer be able to give by using a series of extensive video diaries that vary from something seemingly simplistic like how to make a camp fire right down to the meaning behind one’s life, Gleason shows himself to be a subject worthy of much praise and a subject not afraid to shine a light on a condition that sometimes would be much easier emotionally to pass over entirely.
Never once feeling manipulative, Tweel and various others that helped bring this year’s in the making project to fruition capture ALS in its warts and all nature. It makes Gleason a raw and real feature, but one that’s all the better for it.
From Steve’s slowly deteriorating physical condition from one time pro-athlete to barely being able to walk, his gradual trouble to talk, right through to loss of bodily functions, Gleason never once shy’s away from the horrors Steve and his family and friends faced but it’s how the best of human nature comes through within these times of darkness that makes Gleason so special, a reaffirmation for many that the best of the human spirit trumps everything else.
Final Say –
Gleason will deliver to the viewer various emotional punches that will stay with them long after the credits have rolled.
This powerful, uplifting and insightful documentary on a family of real life heroes is one of the most touching films of recent times and one that will have you in not only tears of sadness, but tears also of pure unbridled joy.
5 real-life heroes out of 5