Thursday, March 2, 2017

Movie Review: "Gleason" (2016)

Image Source
Director: Clay Tweel
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

A look at former NFL player Steve Gleason's battle with ALS.

"Gleason" is a documentary directed by Clay Tweel. It is about former professional football player Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease, shortly before learning his wife Michel was pregnant with their first child. They decided that Steve would then start keeping a video journal for his future son so throughout his life, would have the opportunity to know how and who his father once was.

As many know, ALS is a devastating motor-neuron disease that disables voluntary muscle movement. Most people with this illness pass away within three to five years of their diagnosis with only 10% of patients living past 10 years. Much of the documentary chronicles Steve's deterioration from a fun-loving adventurer to a man bound to a wheelchair. He once participated in many athletic pursuits as he and his wife would regularly travel and try new things in their marriage and relationships. Steve seemed to know his time was limited and that his ability to speak would disappear even faster. What much of this documentary winds up being is a love letter to his son as he records little video journals chronicling his life, his relationship with his wife/the baby's mother Michel, his illness, and more. These videos are so touching you can't help but break down into a sopping, puddled mess of tears as Steve's illness progresses and becomes more and more degenerative. Also through the course of the documentary, we watch as Steve founds Team Gleason, a foundation that helps support those affected by ALS that helps them gain access to equipment which helps people with this disease lead more functional lives. This film isn't only about Steve's struggle, but also the struggle of his wife Michel, who certainly did not expect things to go down this painful, terrifying and sad road. Despite having her life go from one of excitement to basically being a live-in nurse for her husband, we know what she is going through, though very hard, is done out of a deep love for her husband. It will tear you apart to watch not just his physical degeneration, but the breakdown of their relationship, too.

This is a truly heart-wrenching and tear-jerking film. "Gleason" will break you in every possible way to see a once strong, capable football player and lover of life have his existence be altered forever because of his disease. In some small way, I can personally identity with Steve's struggles due to my own physical disability that hinders my life on an everyday basis, but doesn't (yet) bind me to a wheelchair. On the other hand, it is uplifting to hear Steve talk about his love for his son and his wife. It is inspirational to see what an example he has set for others and how his efforts in creating Team Gleason have contributed to others with ALS through various charity functions and lobbying for equipment. This is definitely a documentary worth watching, especially if you want to cry like a baby, and one we personally believe was snubbed at the Oscars this year.

My Rating: 9.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!.

No comments:

Post a Comment