Ordinary Angels

Sadly, we were unable to locate any streaming deals for Ordinary Angels.

We don’t have to hate the journey to a movie just because we know where it’s headed. That’s particularly true when it features a strong script and a two-time Oscar winner playing a character that audiences love for three main reasons: she’s a mess, she gathers herself when she discovers a heartbreaking story that everyone else believes is hopeless, and she somehow overcomes the most difficult of challenges.

Hey, that’s hardly a spoiler, come on. This is BOATS (based on a true story, replete with updates and real-life images above the titles), and it’s obvious from the outset that the goal of the film is to leave us crying but still laughing.

All we need to know about the plot of the story is the difference between the two words in the title.

Hillary Swank portrays Sharon, a co-owner of a prosperous salon and a hairdresser in Louisville, Kentucky. She party hard at night and does hair during the day. She walks out of the AA meeting that her friend drags her to, buys a six-pack at the shop. Sharon notices a headline in the local newspaper at the checkout stand. Michelle, a five-year-old who recently lost her mother, is in critical condition. For Sharon, this is a chance to show her concern and offer assistance. She attends the funeral and makes her acquaintance with the family.

Michelle (Emily Mitchell) and Ashley (Skywalker Hughes), Michelle’s older sister, are enthralled with Sharon’s warmth and the glitter on her clothing. Understandably, their father, Ed (“Reacher’s” Alan Ritchson), is wary of a strange woman intruding into his life. He is distraught, shell-shocked, broke, and afraid. His first instinct is to keep her away from them because he has so little control over what is happening to him. She does, however, frequently state, “I’m good at plenty of things, but taking no for an answer isn’t one of them.”

Sharon arrives at Ed’s door with an envelope stuffed with cash after hosting a fund-raiser at the salon. Nancy Travis, Ed’s mother, extends an invitation to her to remain for supper. Ed is still apprehensive. “She’s disorganized,” he informs Barbara. “So she’ll be right at home,” his mother responds. Then, as Michelle’s illness worsens and the financial load becomes increasingly overwhelming, the roller coaster of difficulties and disputes begins.

Script written by “Are You There, God? It’s Margaret here. Actress/writer Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig get sultry, especially in the scenes with the cute little sisters. The challenging role of Ritchson is to portray a stoic man who says very little and suppresses his feelings out of fear that they would be revealed.

With a character that offers a different set of obstacles, Swank excels. In certain aspects, Sharon lacks focus and responsibility, but in others, she exhibits impulsivity and irresponsibility. The emotional impact of what she does is lessened by the film’s rapid pass through numerous crises and acts of kindness for the family. The screenplay does not trust the audience at the climax, where it must resolve yet another terrible conflict on top of the already extremely dire collision of catastrophes. The climax is reminiscent of Capra’s work, uniting the entire community, and it also includes a touching moment of a reconciled future.

The most powerful parts of the movie are the ones that are more subdued and authentic in both drama and emotion. A particularly poignant scenario has Ed and Sharon admitting to their less-than-angelic, contradictory feelings regarding her accomplishments. This includes recognizing the link between her more harmful addicted behavior and her commitment to supporting Michelle and her family. As an actor, Swank’s uncomplicated directness is ideal for the straightforward, driven character Sharon, who may encourage some of us regular people to strive for greater things.

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