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‘Ordinary Angels’ Review: Hilary Swank’s Passionate Performance Drives True Faith Based Family Drama

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Lionsgate’s collaboration with faith based movie producers Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, American Underdog, I Can Only Imagine) has reaped boxoffice rewards for both, and with their latest, Ordinary Angels, the inspiring true story of a small Kentucky town that comes together in a historic snowstorm in order to transport a 3-year-old girl to an Omaha hospital for a life-saving liver transplant, they have another surefire heartfelt film tailor-made for audiences looking for a little uplift. This actually would have made a perfect Christmas season release but has been delayed for several months, now opening in the same February corridor where Kingdom’s surprise hit, Jesus Revolution did well last year. Midwest crowds will especially respond to a never-say-never tale that is about bringing people together, not tearing them apart in this age of division.

At its center is another richly defined and dedicated Hilary Swank performance as the two-time Oscar winner goes for what she knows best, a flawed character who picks herself up off the floor determined to make a difference in not only her own life, but an entire community. She plays Sharon, a divorced alcoholic hairdresser at odds with her son who one day sees something in the local Kentucky small town newspaper and decides to show up out of the blue to offer help. She turns up unannounced at the funeral for Theresa, the wife of blue collar roofer Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson) who is grieving the loss of his life partner and mother of their two girls, one of whom, Michelle, suffers from the same rare congenital liver disease her mom died from. She is in desperate need of a transplant and Sharon is offering her unique talents to bring awareness. It gets even more urgent when it is learned an organ transplant is now possible, but they must get Michelle to the Omaha hospital urgently. It won’t be easy. The snowstorm of the century at 22 degrees below zero and 16 inches of powder has blanketed the area. Using every idea in her wheelhouse, Sharon manages to engage the entire tiny community to attempt the impossible.

This all actually happened 30 years ago on January 17, 1994 as Michelle Schmitt came to be known as the “snow baby” (the real Michelle lived to age 30 in 2021). Perfectly suited to the values of the faith based genre, Ordinary Angels with a screenplay by actress Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge Of Seventeen, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret) is a cut above the usual in this sector, never pandering to its audience or relying on endless God and prayer references. Director Jon Gunn builds the suspense and has also effectively shot the harrowing weather sequences with expert help from cinematographer Maya Bankovic. Swank is a commanding presence here and nails the role, while Ritchson is nicely cast as the father looking for a miracle. In support Nancy Travis is excellent as his mother. Tamala Jones as Sharon’s best friend Rose , and Drew Powell as the real life Pastor Dave Stone have effective moments.

Producers are Jon Berg, Roy Lee, Dave Matthews, Johnathan Dorfman, Sarah Johnson, David Beal, Kevin Downes, Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin.

Title: Ordinary Angels
Release date: February 23, 2024
Director: Jon Gunn
Screenwriters: Meg Tilly, Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Hilary Swank, Alan Ritchson, Nancy Travis, Tamala Jones, Drew Powell, Amy Acker, Skywalker Hughes, Emily Mitchell
Rating: PG
Running time: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Content Source: deadline.com

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