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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Feedback: Movie critics give their takes on ‘Gleason’

The documentary “Gleason” opens this week in Spokane-area theaters. In the film, Steve Gleason, the former Gonzaga Prep and Washington State football star, shares his journey of struggling with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, formerly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, since retiring from the National Football League. Critics around the country are raving about the documentary.

Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times: “As Steve Gleason, the extraordinary man at the center of the documentary, acknowledges at one point, his story is sad – and yet, he insists with good reason, ‘it’s not all sad.’ If this film portrait stirs deep emotions, they spring from a breathtakingly unsentimental embrace of life at its most challenging.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: “(Dirctor Clay) Tweel has crafted a film that goes beyond the facts of Gleason’s football life. It promotes an awareness of ALS that trumps any well-intended ice-bucket challenge – and ranks as a profound achievement.”

Glenn Kenny, New York Times: “The assembled moments recording Gleason’s physical deterioration become all the more moving when the film flashes back to him in more able days.”

Matt Zoller Seitz, “The whole movie is as unaffected and direct as a documentary can be. Nothing is off-limits here: moments of doubt and fear, disgust at failures of the body, the challenges that a debilitating illness poses to marriage and parenting.”

Devan Coggan, Entertainment Weekly: “Gleason has a kind of Chris Pratt charm in his frank and often funny video diaries, whether he’s reflecting on his strained relationship with his religious father or bluntly charting his weakening state.”

Mike Scott, (New Orleans) Times-Picayune: “A powerful and inspiring portrait of unbowed strength and courage in the face of great adversity. Must-see cinema for anyone in need of a psychic pick-me-up.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: “ ‘Gleason’ is so powerful in its cumulative effect that it should be accompanied by a consumer advisory-something along the lines of ‘This documentary may cause sudden alterations of mood and attitude.’ ”

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: “There are moments in ‘Gleason’ where it’s very hard – whether you know ALS or are new to it – to look at the screen; moments so devastating you wonder how this couple, and those who love them, can bear it.”

Jeffrey Edalatpour, SF Weekly: “Steve’s entries are increasingly poignant as he slowly loses the ability to move, speak, and care for himself. The camera doesn’t flinch from showing a marriage tested by the vow ‘in sickness and in health,’ but ‘Gleason’ never feels salacious or intrusive.”

Turn to page C5 to read Nathan Weinbender’s interview with director J. Clay Tweel and review of the documentary.

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