If you were faced with a terminal disease that would ravage your body, what would you do? Byer took up a camera. When he was diagnosed in 2002 with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a neurological disorder that gradually destroys control of the muscles, the Chicago actor and playwright set about chronicling the progress of his illness. What he has created is by turns a raging cri de coeur, an insightful self-portrait of a family’s complex reactions to tragedy, an examination of alternative medicines and a thought-provoking look at how we all face our mortality.
Byer’s footage isn’t always artful (you can tell which sections were shot by ace cinematographer Roko Belic), but with editor Tim Baron he has shaped his material into a cohesive whole. He also finds ways to make his situation stingingly relevant to anyone trying to give their lives meaning. Byer passed away recently, but he has left us a brave, moving film as his legacy.