It’s hard to overstate the ambition on display in Clay Tweel’s documentary—and the degree to which the emotion matches that ambition. For nearly four years, Tweel follows ex-NFL player Steve Gleason from his diagnosis with ALS—coinciding within a matter of weeks with the discovery that his wife, Michel, is pregnant—through the gradual deterioration of his physical abilities, but time is only one part of that scope. Tweel turns his primary subjects into rich, complex characters: Steve a former athlete trying to make peace with his new body, and Michel a free spirit grappling with her new role as “saintly” caretaker for both husband and child (in one scene, we actually see her feeding them both simultaneously). And he digs into gut-wrenching issues of fathers and sons across three generations, as Steve tries to make peace with his relationship with his own father even as he stockpiles video diaries for the child he may never see grow up. It’s hard to imagine a more unfiltered, beautifully devastating portrait of a family confronting tragedy, in scenes bursting with love and frustration and hope and pain.
Director: Clay Tweel
Producer: Seth Gordon, Kimi Culp, Scott Fujita, Mary Rohlich, Tom Lavia, Thomas McEachin, Kevin Lake, Mark Shapiro, Will Staeger and Paul Varisco Sr.
Cast: Steve Gleason, Drew Brees, Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder