Review: ‘Ordinary Angels’ Tugs Heartstrings, Celebrates Hope

Review: ‘Ordinary Angels’ Tugs Heartstrings, Celebrates Hope February 22, 2024

“Ordinary Angels,” the story of how a struggling southern hairdresser finds purpose in helping a family she doesn’t know is the latest release from Kingdom Story Company, the studio behind “Jesus Revolution” and “I Can Only Imagine.” Two-time Oscar-winning actress Hillary Swank steps into the high heels of Sharon Stevens, a no-nonsense headstrong woman fighting her own battles of addiction while standing in the gap for Ed Schmitt, played by Alan Ritchson, and his daughters.

“Ordinary Angels’ artwork courtesy of Lionsgate Studios.

The true story, which happened 30 years ago, seems like a recipe for a feel-good drama and under the skilled direction of Jon Gunn (“The Case for Christ,” “Do You Believe?”), it is poised to be one of the most accessible Christian films. It features prayer, worship and God but also leans heavily on the concepts of love, hope, and kindness. It avoids being sappy by focusing on the human frailties and weaknesses of the main characters. “I’m broken Ed,” Sharon says during a moment of confession. “I always have been.”

Broken people like Sharon, however, find their healing in helping others. And that’s the true theme of the film. You don’t have to be perfect to do great things. Sharon sees a need, puts her skills to use, and not only becomes a hero, but also opens the door for others to find their purpose as well. It’s a multiplication of servanthood, a solid formula for turning the world around.

Although the heavy subject matter of Michelle’s life-and-death battle define the narrative, emotional breaks are provided with pockets of humor, such as type-A Sharon’s interactions with the low-key Ed, and Sharon’s skeptical but caring friend Rose. Nancy Travis as Ed’s mother Barbara also provides matronly comfort and needed levity. The story is elevated thanks to an engaging screenplay by actress Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig (“Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”).

With expert performances and production, “Ordinary Angels” stands out as not only a milestone faith-based film but also one of the best films of the year overall.

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