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Ordinary Angels

MOVIE | An alcoholic single mom rallies her town to save a dying girl in director Jon Gunn’s latest faith-based film


Allen Fraser / Lionsgate

<em>Ordinary Angels</em>
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Rated PG
Theaters

COMIC BOOK HEROES are known to cloak their super abilities beneath a shabby suit. But real-life heroes can’t shed their ordinariness or their frailties in a phone booth. When they act courageously, it’s often in spite of their weaknesses.

The new film Ordinary Angels, based on the memoir of the same name by Sharon Stevens Evans, tells one such hero’s story. Hilary Swank plays Sharon, a spunky single mother and hairdresser struggling with alcoholism who rallies the people of Louisville, Ky., in the early 1990s to save a dying girl.

The film opens as Ed Schmitt (professing Christian and Reacher star Alan Ritchson) is losing his wife to an illness. He’s left to raise his two young daughters, Ashley (Skywalker Hughes) and Michelle (Emily Mitchell), with help from his mother, Barbara (Nancy Travis). Michelle has an incurable condition that will prove fatal without a liver transplant. Although not shown in the film, Ashley also suffered from the same disease.

One day while buying a six-pack of beer, Sharon reads about the Schmitts in the newspaper. She tells Rose (Tamala Jones), her best friend and salon co-owner, that she feels inspired to raise money for Michelle’s expensive procedure. Rose warns her that her exuberance is indicative of addiction, but Sharon’s not the type to take no for an answer.

“Someone’s gotta fight for [Michelle], and … if that’s addict behavior, then, hey, I … might as well put it to good use.”

As the Schmitts’ medical bills pile up, Sharon champions the family’s plight in the community. She also inserts herself into Ed’s and the girls’ lives, leaving viewers to wonder if she’ll be the next Mrs. Schmitt. But her busyness only masks her substance abuse, estrangement from her grown son, and self-loathing.

The film’s focus on Sharon nearly pushes Ed’s steadfast devotion to his family into the background. And in what’s almost an afterthought, the film’s final 10 minutes portray the incredible day dozens of people helped Michelle get to the airport during a blizzard when a donor’s liver became available. (Michelle got the transplant but died at age 30.)

Ordinary Angels was directed by Jon Gunn, a filmmaker who has plenty of experience with based-on-a-true-story faith-based movies. He wrote the scripts for Jesus Revolution (2023), American Underdog (2021), and I Still Believe (2020), all of which were produced by Lionsgate, the studio behind Ordinary Angels.

But compared to Jesus Revolution, Ordinary Angels plays it pretty safe, attempting to be a Christian movie that also might appeal to general audiences. The story is inspiring, and the film ­suggests a person’s greatest need, as Sharon says, is “to find meaning and purpose outside ourselves.”

It’s curious, however, that Jesus’ name never gets a mention.


Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.

@RightTwoLife

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