Movie Review: ‘Ordinary Angels’

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Featured Post, Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Greetings again from the darkness. Ed Schmitt has lost his faith. His wife dies, leaving him with two young daughters … the youngest of which, due to Biliary Artesia, needs a liver transplant to avoid her mother’s tragic fate. These circumstances have straddled Ed with $400,000 in medical bills, and the possibility of losing his precious daughter before a donor can be found. Directed by Jon Gunn (MY DATE WITH DREW documentary, 2004), the film is based on a true story with a screenplay by Kelly Fremong Craig (THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN 2016; ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET 2023) and actress Meg Tilly (her first screenplay).

Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank stars as Sharon Stevens, a middle-aged hairdresser and alcoholic party girl. We see her at her inebriated peak, dancing on the bar in her tasseled boots – right up until she falls off. Her salon partner Rose (Tamala Jones) does what any good friend would do – takes her to an AA meeting. Of course, Sharon refuses to admit she’s an alcoholic, but afterwards, as she’s in line to buy a six-pack, a local newspaper headline catches her eye. Five-year-old Michelle Schmitt (Emily Mitchelly) has recently lost her mom, and now has severe medical issues herself. Something awakens in Sharon and she organizes a Hair-A-Thon to fundraise for Michelle.

Michelle’s dad, Ed, is a hulking man played by Alan Ritchson (“Reacher”). He’s a soft-spoken man whose pride and guilt is consuming him. He and Sharon couldn’t be less alike, but Sharon dedicates herself to helping Michelle and Ed, as well as the older daughter (Skywalker Hughes), and Ed’s mother (Nancy Travis). Sharon seems intent on doing something good with her life, yet the addiction tendencies are ever-present, no matter how much the girls admire her sparkly skirts and neon heels.

This is 1993 in Louisville, Kentucky, and it’s obvious the writers have taken a great deal of dramatic license to up the ante on the hurdles facing Ed, Michelle, and Sharon. In fact, some of it is overkill, as the actual story is plenty heartwarming. These days, it’s enjoyable to watch folks helping others, and when the community comes together for the film’s most dramatic moment, it’s sure to bring a tear to the eyes of many viewers. We are all flawed humans, but Sharon proves that helping others (even those too proud to ask) is a reward in and of itself. Director Gunn ends the film with real life updates (and photos) of Sharon and the Schmitts, plus songs by Wendlo and Dave Matthews.

Rated PG and opening in theaters nationwide on February 23, 2024

David Ferguson
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