by Tim Birkbeck
For many the Ice Bucket Challenge was just an internet craze which took over the world for a period of time. What people forget is that the whole idea of the challenge was to raise awareness for people with ALS.
People like former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, who was diagnoses with the rare neurological diseases in 2011.
In his time in the NFL Gleason’s career can be defined by one moment when during the Saints’ first home game since their city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Gleason blocked a punt by the Atlanta Falcons that was returned for a touchdown, the first score of a game which the Saints would go on to win.
But since that moment the former football star has become more of a hero off the field.
in the documentary film Gleason the viewer is taken through the very raw and emotional journey Steve and his family go through as they come to terms with his diagnosis and as you slowly see his body start to shut down. The film is part home video and part shot by a film crew, but at the centre of this tale are Gleason’s video diaries for his son Rivers. With each video entry, Steve starts to deteriorate a little more, but throughout he remains focused on making sure he has something to pass onto his son.
The film is a very intimate and real look into someone who has ALS and what they, and their family have to go through on a daily basis.
We are shown the highs and lows, from Steve interviewing Pearl Jam to almost having an argument with his wife Michel, there are no punches pulled, and it is that raw emotion which makes this such a compelling film. The other dynamic which comes into play is the relationship Steve has with his own father, and how he comes to terms with the news of his sons diagnosis. Being a man of faith Steve’s dad takes him to see a faith healer, and this is one more uncomfortable scenes in the film, where Steve tries to run again and just ends up face planting the floor.
I for one am not someone who generally cries at films, but during Gleason there are some real heart wrenching moments when even the most cold hearted person will be reaching for a tissue.
Gleason may be a story of one man’s journey, its may be a story about awareness, but overall it is a story of one man and his son.
Dir: Clay Tweel
Cast: Steve Gleason, Mike Gleason, Michel Varisco-Gleason, Scott Fujita, Blair Casey and Rivers Gleason
Prd: Scott Fujita, Kimi Culp, Seth Gordon and Kevin Lake
Run time: 110 mins
Gleason is out in cinemas this Friday