By Casey Allen
Gleason Review - Highly Recommend, Family Friendly
Gleason is the true story of former Washington State Cougar and New Orleans Saint Football player Steve Gleason, his wife Michel, and son Rivers. Shortly after retiring from the NFL Steve was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
Since this is the first review I've done for Chosen I wanted to make sure the film was something special--and indeed it was. Having recently lost my closest uncle and godfather to ALS this film had an especially profound impact on me, and I'm honored to share my thoughts with our readers.
For Steve, a young man in his early thirties (and a career athlete no less) being diagnosed with such a debilitating terminal illness was obviously a devastating shock. Just 6 short weeks later he and Michel found out they were expecting their first child together. Rather than let the bad news crush his spirit Steve decided to compose a video journal for his unborn son in order to pass on as much of himself as possible with what precious little time he had left.
Gleason is told through a combination of Steve's video journal entries, a series of personal interviews, and intimate recordings of the whole family. Steve's journal continues for several years after Rivers is born and chronicles the family’s incredible adventures and accomplishments as well as the rapid progression of Steve's disease. The contrast of positive and negative emotions combined with the intimacy and unrestricted access the family gives the audience is both fearlessly intimate and memorably powerful.
Rivers wasn't the only child born of Steve and Michel post-diagnosis. One of the highlights of the film for me was seeing the birth of Steve and Michel's brain child, The Gleason Foundation. As somebody who lost a dear family member to ALS, I am especially grateful for their continued support of other ALS patients and all the foundation's hard work pursuing the advancement of new forms of research and treatment.