After he is diagnosed with ALS, former professional football player Steve Gleason begins making a video diary for his unborn son, as he, his wife, and their friends and family work to raise money for ALS patients as his disease progresses.
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At the age of 34, Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS. Doctors gave the former NFL defensive back and New Orleans hero two to five years to live. So that is what Steve chose to do - LIVE: with purpose, for his newborn son, for his wife, and to help others with his disease.
People will say: "Oh it's such a sad, tragic story." It is sad, and so they're right... but it's not all sad. And I think there is more in my future than in my past. I believe my future is bigger than my past and so that's uplifting. That's Inspiring
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"It's not going to be easy but it's going to be awesome"
"Gleason" (2016 release; 110 min.) is a documentary about Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saint defensive back and special team player. As the movie opens, Gleason talks into the camera, explaining he want to make video blogs, "to share while I can". After that, we go back in time when we see Gleason excel at Washington State and then the Saints, retiring in 2008. We then go straight to the heart of the matter: it's January, 2011 and Steve is diagnosed with ACL, better known at Lou Gehrig's disease. Shortly thereafter, we learn that Steve's wife Michel is pregnant with the couple's first child.
Couple of comments: let me state upfront that I was not familiar with Steve Gleason, and unless you are a Saints fan, I'm guessing many of you are not either. But when I saw the trailer of this movie some weeks ago, I just knew I had to come watch this. Beware: the movie is not for the faint of heart! it throws an emotional gut punch at you, as we discover what it's like to live with ACl, and to see how a once healthy man's body steadily worsens--while his mind stays sharp, creating enormous frustration at times for Gleason. The movie does not look away either when very difficult moments arrive (check out the confrontations, yes plural, between Steve and his father). But in the end the movie is also very inspirational, as we see Steve persevere, helped with unwavering support by Michel and others. Several Pearl Jam members appear in the movie, and Steve's interview of PJ front man Eddie Vedder is priceless. In another one of his video blogs, Steve says "it's not going to be easy but it's going to be awesome". And that captures the movie right there.
"Gleason" made quite a splash when it premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and Amazon Studios promptly bought it. It recently had a one week run at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and the Wednesday early evening screening where I saw it at was sadly not attended very well. I sure hope that this movie will find a wider audience in distribution channels outside of traditional theaters. If you are in the mood for an emotional taxing but inspirational documentary about life with ACL, you cannot go wrong with this. Just make sure you have plenty of paper napkins handy... "Gleason" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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