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Hilary Swank stars in Ordinary Angels (IMDB)

The intense joy of a birth.The sadness of an unexpected death. A crowded bar in Louisville, Kentucky, 1993, with an exuberant drinker. Then the title comes up, Ordinary Angels. What is going to happen? Any connection? And then information this is based on a true story. Source: Australian Catholics.

With the initial emotional scenes, this is a film that wears its heart on its sleeve. It wants us to be drawn into its characters’ quests; to share the joys and sorrows. Most audiences are happy to surrender to this kind of invitation, but the blatant emotions could cause others to recoil.

This is a human story. And it is a faith story. The producers of Ordinary Angels have shown an expertise over the past 10-15 years in making “faith films” which appeal at the American box office – and sometimes further. There is some God language, especially the questioning of God in times of anguish, and there are some church and congregation scenes, which will appeal to the faith audience. But they are in a setting of ordinary lives with which many audiences will identify.

And the connection? The opening birth is of Michelle, the pride and joy of her parents, Therese and Ed. The harrowing death is that of Therese – made even more profoundly sad because Michelle is suffering from the disease that killed her mother and is in desperate need of a liver transplant. Michelle is five.

The exuberant drinker of the bar scene is Sharon Stevens, a feisty character, the kind of character that Hilary Swank likes to portray (remembering her Oscars for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby). A hairdresser, she is in denial of her drinking problem. However, she becomes caught up in the story of the sick child and offers to help. At first glance, she doesn’t seem like the person who could help. But . . .

Sharon organises a 24-hour haircutting marathon and raises more than $3000 for Michelle, displaying an extraordinary talent for management, and for never taking no for an answer.

This is an emotional journey, highlighting the good of individuals and communities as they respond in times of crisis.

Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media

ORDINARY ANGELS: Starring Hilary Swank, Alan Ritchson, Emily Mitchell, Skywalker Hughes, Tamala Jones. Directed by Jon Gunn. 118 minutes. Rated caps PG (Mild themes and coarse language).


Ordinary Angels (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)