Movie Review: 'Ordinary Angels'

By John Thomas

“Shots for everyone at the bar,” shouts Sharon (Hilary Swank) to the alcohol fueled crowd filling the Louisville bar. She has already had more than one herself – so many in fact that she decides to sing. Barely managing to climb onto the bar, she begins stomping her cowboy boots and swirling in her fringe laden jacket to the beat of the blasting music. Both her audience and alcohol consumption incite her performance.

Rose (Tamala Jones), the person who owns the beauty shop where Sharon works, is in the audience and is very concerned. She finally manages to drag Sharon off the bar and into a car for the drive home.

A very hungover Sharon awakens the next day still wearing her glittery outfit with pain wracking her body. Across the room, huddled in a blanket, Rose sits dozing. The first conversation the two have is about Sharon’s drinking. A short talk as Sharon stomps out the door heading for a much-needed coffee.

Sitting with coffee in front of her, she glances at a newspaper at her side. The lead story is about a recent widower, Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson), and his two young daughters. Their young 29-year-old mother passed recently leaving her family with grief and tons of medical bills. To worsen the situation, the youngest daughter Michelle (Emily Michell), is in desperate need of a liver transplant.

Rose had already told Sharon, that she needs to fix herself. Rose thinks helping this family might be what she needs. Her attending AA meetings didn’t help. After reading the article and doing a little research, Sharon has a new focus – raising money for the Schmitt family. She places a donation jar in the hair salon, holds benefits and goes door to door, business to business collecting money.

Ed answers her knock at his front door. Being a very private person, he is reluctant to accept the envelope containing the $3k Sharon has collected. He finally does as he desperately needs the cash for household expenses.

Driven by her small successes, Sharon tackles greater challenges. Confronting the directors of the hospital to whom Ed owes hundreds of thousands of dollars – she again prevails. It’s time to work on Michelle’s liver transplant. She talks to the doctors and hospital staff only to find out that Michelle is sixth in line for a transplant and time is running out for a successful procedure - the child doesn’t have much time left. In addition, the surgery is to be performed at a children’s hospital in Omaha – somehow they need to get there within a short window of time.

With no advance notice for the operation, booking commercial is out. Sharon then turns to private. Through determination and persistence, she eventually finds a pilot who understands their predicament and is willing to stand by.

On January 6, 1994, word comes that Michelle has moved to #1 on the transplant list and a liver is available – but only for a short time. Also arriving to Louisville on the 6th is an unprecedented snow blizzard bringing 17 inches of snow to the area. Roads, highways and airports are all closed.

Directed by Jon Gunn (Credits: The Week, The Case for Christ) Ordinary Angels runs 118 and is a “must see” for the compelling interpretation of a real-life story. Outstanding performances by the actors. Bring tissues.

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