When the film introduces us to Stephen Heywood, he is an active, charismatic 29 year old with a family seemingly charmed with intelligence, good looks and good luck; as the next five years unfold, we watch as ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) steadily robs Stephen of speech and mobility, and alters the Heywoods’ world beyond recognition. ALS is called an “orphan disease,” as its rareness makes it a low priority for pharmaceutical companies. Stephen’s brother takes on the fight against the disease’s progression as a personal mission, starting a foundation that employs “guerrilla scientists” who work outside the mainstream scientific establishment, frenetically testing scores of new drugs and techniques. The Heywoods, including Stephen’s new wife and baby, must adjust to a new reality with a heightened awareness of time. This film illustrates the effects of the disease better than any fictional work could: watching Stephen’s rapid deterioration is devastating, as profound as it is unsettling.