Gleason ★★★★½

It's easier to make a difference in the world versus the reality of the hardness that it is to maintain relationships.

There comes a point in Gleason where Michel and Steve are lying next to each other. Michel in one bed, Steve in the other. Steve notes that Michel has been distant and hasn't been paying attention to him. As Michel listens, her beautifully expressive eyebrows contort from fatigued irritation to soul-crushing sorrow and, then, once more back again to frustration. At the risk of arm-chair psychologizing, this moment, to me, encapsulated what is so powerful about this documentary. Yes, it's a celebration of Steve's life. Yes, it's a video diary to his son. Yes, it's a documentation of one man's struggle to overcome ALS. But, what is yet more extraordinary is how intimate and thoroughly honest Gleason can be.

At times I felt uncomfortable. It was as though I was peering through a living room window and watching a family struggle with life coming crashing down upon them in slow-motion. This voyeuristic discomfort is what makes Gleason so spectacular. Or rather, the intimacy that this discomfort gives way to is what makes the film so special. By midway through the film I felt like I had seen this family - especially Michel - trudge through hell. The fact that the subjects have no pretension about how trying it all is and how everything is not going well, gives Gleason a strikingly authentic feel.

I give Gleason a 4.5/5.

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