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Film Review: ORDINARY ANGELS (2024): A Moving True Story About the Kindness of Strangers and the Healing Power of Hope

Hilary Swank Ordinary Angels

Ordinary Angels Review

Ordinary Angels (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Jon Gunn, written by Kelly Fremon Craig and Meg Tilly and starring Hilary Swank, Alan Ritchson, Amy Acker, Nancy Travis, Tamala Jones, Drew Powell, Skywalker Hughes, Nancy Sorel, Dempsey Bryk, Stephanie Sy, Emily Mitchell, Erik Athavale, David Lawrence Brown, Paul Essiembre, Ryan Allen, Gwendolyn Collins and Andrea del Campo.

In the heartfelt new tearjerker, Ordinary Angels, Hilary Swank portrays Sharon Stevens, an every day middle-aged hairdresser with personal problems who shifts from being an alcoholic to helping a family in need. It’s directed by Jon Gunn and has a very big heart. It’s the type of truly moving film that can bring an audience to tears and make viewers believe in the power of faith and hope.

Swank is cast opposite Alan Ritchson who plays a man named Ed Schmitt. Ed has just lost his wife, Theresa (Amy Acker) and has two young daughters, one of whom is ill and needs a liver transplant to survive. Set in Kentucky, the movie successfully goes back and forth between scenes of moving drama and lighter scenes of everyday life until it pulls out all the stops with a climax that will deeply touch viewers’ hearts and, surprisingly, the movie is sincere rather than manipulative in terms of earning the audience’s tears.

As the film’s main story begins, Sharon shows up at the church where Theresa is being remembered and finds it in her heart to try to do a good deed and help Ed and his family. When she goes to the family get-together after the death processions, Sharon automatically takes a liking to Ed’s kids, Michelle (the charming Emily Mitchell) and Ashley (Skywalker Hughes). The children seem to like Sharon too. Ed finds it unusual that Sharon is showing up at the funeral, not having known Theresa personally. Sharon had read about them in the newspaper. But, eventually, Sharon goes ahead and raises money through haircuts to help with the hospital bills Ed has been smothered with. In a heartbreaking scene, Ed’s credit cards are declined as he tries to pay a hospital bill for services that have helped his daughter.

Nancy Travis serves as Barbara, Ed’s mother and Michelle and Ashley’s grandmother. In another emotional scene, Ed forgets a key ingredient for dinner and after Barbara gets mad at him. Ed admits he couldn’t afford the extra grocery item. Travis is excellent in her role and in this scene, in particular, as she tries to hold the family together as disaster soon strikes and one bad thing happens after another. Travis has always been a fine character actress and excels here.

Soon, Ed seeks work as a roofer with Sharon’s help. Sharon makes fliers to represent Ed who needs money so badly he agrees to fix half the roofs in town. Sharon takes over all Ed’s finances in the hopes of being able to get the transplant that Michelle needs to survive. The plot eventually takes a sharp turn as a snowstorm strikes and the town must come to the aid of Ed to help him get his daughter to the hospital in time to save her life.

Swank is enormously believable in her role. She expertly plays the alcoholic who has a major drinking problem she won’t admit to and a relationship with a loved one that has become rather distant and altered. You’ll be astonished by Swank’s character transformation and be moved by her rapport with Ritchson’s Ed. Ritchson gets the hopelessness of his character right on the nose and is also very sincere in his part.

Another notable performance is that of the energetic Tamala Jones as Sharon’s confidante at work, Rose. Jones adds some distinct qualities to her admirable role and she turns in a rather earnest performance, more than holding her own beside the always formidable Swank.

Many scenes here will keep audiences invested in the drama. Swanks’s character, Sharon’s inability to admit she has a problem with her alcoholism is compelling and portrayed ultra realistically. Swank plays Sharon as a lost soul who finds hope and salvation in her ability to help Ed and his daughters. Travis is the big surprise here, though, adding surprising layers to the grandmother who keeps things together by small gestures like reading to the girls even when all possible faith seems to be gone. It is in fact, faith, that holds the family together.

Ordinary Angels is the type of movie that could give audiences a newfound respect for the things in life that make it worthwhile. Family, friendship and hope, itself, are some of the things that keep life tolerable even when everything else seems to be falling apart.

There are a couple of minor reservations I had with the film. The opening scenes occur too quickly and could have taken their time to develop more. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Theresa who was such a driving force in Ed and his daughters’ lives. Also, the way the money seems to come together feels a bit too convenient to serve the demands of the plot. Since it’s a true story, you can’t argue much with the facts but the film ties everything up neatly when it could have shown some more of the struggles the family faced.

But, still. Ordinary Angels is an inspirational fact-based look at the power of perseverance. Hilary Swank is a true movie star and keeps the audiences invested in the film’s dramatics even when the picture gets bogged down in one too many feel-good redemptive scenes. A story of hope like this one, however, may just inspire people to become better human beings and, also, help them learn to cherish the joys found in everyday life. And, we need that.

Rating: 7.5/10

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