Ordinary Angels (2024)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Jon Gunn
Run Time
1 hour and 58 minutes

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★4 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

This poor soul cried and was heard by the LORD
and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Psalm 34:6-7


Ed Schmitt with his 2 daughters in church, (c) Lionsgate Films

This based-on-a-true-story film can serve as a tonic for those jaded by so much bad news from politics, shootings, and the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine. Though highly embellished, director Jon Gunn’s reminds us that here are a lot of good people out there who care about their fellow humans. There is no villain in this film, except for Mother Nature’s blizzard that threatens the life of a little girl.

Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson) is a freshly widowed father saying Goodbye to his wife Theresa with his second daughter Michelle (Emily Mitchell). He actually has two daughters, and they live in a small town in Kentucky. However, he cannot focus on his grief because Michelle is in dire need of a liver transplant, and he is overwhelmed by debt, not having health insurance. He works as a roofer, his income far too meager to pay his old bills, let alone assume new ones running into the tens-of-thousands o  dollars. (This film could be used as an example of how terrible America’s medical system is compared to Europe’s, where Michelle would be given treatment despite the low economic status of her family!)

Cut to a bar where hairdresser Sharon Stevens (Hilary Swank) is drinking away the night. Her friend and co-worker   Rose (Tamala Jones) is so worried about her that she takes her to an AA meeting, but Sharon is sure she is not an alcoholic. She has little purpose in life until she reads of Michelle’s plight in the local newspaper. Still feeling the affects of her drinking, she shows up at the funeral, introducing herself and offering to help. Ed stuffily thanks her and they part. Without contacting Ed, she starts a fund raiser  in her salon(she calls it a Hair-o-Thon), managing to raise $3200, which she delivers. To Ed’s irritation his mother Barbara (Nancy Travis) invites her to supper, saying quietly to him, “When the lord sends a woman to your door with an envelope full of cash, you invite her for dinner.”

This is only the start of the brash Sharon becoming involved—Ed regards it as an intrusion—into Schmitt family’s affairs. She manages to get him started in his own roofing business after a tornado devastates an area and established contractors are overwhelmed by the number of damaged homes. She negotiates with a team of hospital executives to get the bill of the late Theresa reduced from several hundred thousand dollars to Zero! This we would regard as too far-fetched if it were not a :true story”!

Th climax also involving a giant “blizzard of the decade” also seems too Hollywoodish, but there is TV news footage from a Louisville station that recorded the event. The situation is that word is received during the snowfall that a hospital 700 miles away has a liver for Michelle but can hold it only until a certain time before they have to assign it to someone closer. Ed sets out in his pickup truck with his daughter, but no matter what rout, including the Interstate, he is blocked. During his futile attempts Sharon is manning the phone, arranging for a private-owned helicopter, along with a pilot to take on such a risky flight, and then when it can’t land, using the TV station to put out the word for the need of people to shovel out a church parking. It’s a scene that has us on the edge of our seats cheering on the hundreds of caring citizens who answer the call.

This is another faith-based film that does not preach, but simply tells a good story that touches our hearts. The first-rate cast of Hillary Swank, who in a hospital negotiating scene will remind you of Erin Brocovich, and Alan Ritchson as the taciturn father who resents the invasion of his privacy, even by a stranger meaning well, is totally convincing. Sharon proves to be a wounded healer (or, better, fixer), her drinking stemming back to her past and failed relationship with her now grown son. The supporting cast members are just as good, little Emily Mitchell a real charmer as the ill daughter, as is veteran actor Nancy Travis as Ed’s mother. Credit is due also to script writers Kelly Fremon Craig and Meg Tilly for refusing to turn Sharon and Ed’s relationship into a romance—he is after all, a single father, and Sharon relates well to the two daughters. Instead, as the closing pictures of the real parsons inform us, the two remained friends for life.

Some have complained that the film fails to provide the larger context of Ed Schmitt’s medical woes by not showing the predatory nature of the American health system. In Europe and Asia doctors live well, but at the extravagant level of American skilled surgeons and specialists whose huge fees enable them to live in mansions and drive designer cars. Yes, Sharon is able to negotiate the forgiveness of the Schmitt medical bill, but should she have to do so? Is there a right to medical service regardless of the ability to pay—as the members of overseas societies seem to believe—or do those able to acquire the necessary skills and medical positions have the right to enrich themselves at the expense of ill? Maybe this is asking too much of

the filmmakers, though I am sure there are some who could do so. In the meantime, we can be thankful for the makers of this more narrowly focused family drama. It is good that they have made a film affirming that there are a lot of good people out there willing to come out in a blizzard and offer their services. I would add that I hope they also come out to vote for politicians who support and defend the Affordable Care Act.

This review is in the March issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.

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