“Ordinary Angels” – Ordinary people [MOVIE REVIEW]

Hilary Swank as Sharon. Photo Credit: Allen Fraser

“Ordinary Angels’ is a sweet story meant to tug at your heartstrings and play on the adage that one person can make a difference. Jon Gunn, working from a script by Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig, bases his tale on a true life story about a very sick child and the stranger that rallies a town behind her. 

“Ordinary Angels” boasts  a good cast starting with Hilary Swank leading the charge as Sharon, an alcoholic hairdresser looking for purpose in her life. Her best friend and coworker Rose, a very good Tamala Jones, tries guiding Sharon down a road to recovery against her will. Sharon’s uncontrolled behavior has ruined her marriage and any relationship with her only son. Like most alcoholics, Sharon blames circumstances rather than herself. She can stop anytime she chooses and she doesn’t choose to stop drinking. What she needs is purpose and she finds one when she reads about the sad case of Michelle Schmitt, a toddler dying of congenital liver failure and in desperate need of a liver transplant. Michelle’s father, played sympathetically by Alan Ritchson (“Reacher”) shows the depth of pain in a man who recently lost his wife to the same disease and is now losing his daughter. Horribly in debt and too proud to ask for help, he is surprised, almost offended, when a complete stranger, Sharon, starts a fundraising campaign for his family. 

Sharon is an unstoppable force and no immovable object had better stand in her way. Ed needs organization, both in his business and personal life and Sharon is there to manage it. That he is against her interference is meaningless compared to the joy his mother Barbara and his two daughters find in Sharon’s attention.

Alan Ritchson as Ed. Photo Credit: Allen Fraser

There are obstacles to overcome, officious hospital administrators to win over, budgets to organize and all to the advantage of Ed. It is her own life that she is ignoring, including her hair salon and partner Rose. It is Rose who recognizes that Sharon is using this new found purpose to submerge her own issues.

Gunn successfully builds suspense as one problem surmounts another and then yet another, including the worst blizzard in Kentucky history. But it’s a foregone conclusion that everything will come out alright, it’s just a question of how. There are no spoiler alerts here. You’ve seen this story, either fictional or real life, a million times. “Ordinary Angels” isn’t the best of them but it’s definitely not the worst. The talented cast alone makes this worth watching. 

This movie illustrates some of the problems with independent filmmaking today. Although it’s well worth seeing, it is not really worthy of a big screen theatrical release. It is the kind of film most often found on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel. It offers an apparently insoluble predicament, the hopes for a positive outcome that are seemingly dashed and finally, the happy ending denouement you were waiting for. Along the way there are the Christian moments that allegedly illustrate why you should never give up on God, once again One who works in mysterious ways, taking with one hand and giving with the other. Luckily the church and minister are minor characters in this story of healing and redemption. 

Opening February 23 at most local AMC theaters and the Cinepolis in Inglewood. 

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