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Lisa M. Hendey reviews a new movie that puts the focus on faith and everyday miracles.

Ordinary Angels tells a dramatic true story of a galvanized community, a family facing heartbreak and crisis, and a flawed individual who shows us that we too can be heroes. This John Gunn-directed film from Kingdom Story—the company that gave us Jesus Revolution—serves as a compelling call to action for such critical issues as organ donation and retiring the crippling burden of medical debt. 


Based on a remarkable true story, ORDINARY ANGELS centers on Sharon Steves (Hilary Swank), a fierce but struggling hairdresser in small-town Kentucky who discovers a renewed sense of purpose when she meets Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson), a widower working hard to make ends meet for his two daughters. With his youngest daughter waiting for a liver transplant, Sharon sets her mind to helping the family and will move mountains to do it. What unfolds is the inspiring tale of faith, everyday miracles, and ordinary angels. (Lionsgate) 


Watch the trailer:


This film adaptation of memoirist Sharon Stevens Evans’ book by the same title shares the story of one family’s journey to battle for a child’s life and the community that surrounds them with love and support. Hilary Swank stars as Sharon Evans, a firebrand but flawed hairstylist who takes a sudden interest in newly widowed father Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson) and his two young daughters. After she wanders into their lives, Sharon tirelessly devotes herself to helping Ed and his daughters, Ashley and Michelle. Michelle (Emily Mitchell) needs a liver as soon as possible. While support around the family grows, Michelle’s health worsens. In the film’s climactic finish, an entire community surrounds the Schmitts when disaster looms. 

The film is an updated version of a true story that gripped Louisville, Kentucky in 1994. Both Schmitt daughters were diagnosed with biliary atresia, a condition in infants in which the bile ducts outside and inside the liver are blocked. Michelle Schmitt Cobble passed away three years ago, but her sister Ashley has called this film a way to keep Michelle’s memory alive while also educating and encouraging others on the importance of organ donation. The film’s website offers a direct link to Donate Life, a resource where people can learn about and register as donors for organ, eye and tissue donation.  




Although there is much to love about this chapter of history that reminds us to truly be our neighbors’ keepers, I was most moved by Swank’s portrayal of Sharon Evans. Outwardly, Sharon is battling for a family she has only just come to know. But we also learn that inwardly, she battles her own demons and sometimes fails. I love that we see Sharon not as a perfect person, but rather as someone who must face her own healing journey. Sharon’s brokenness reminds me that although I have my own challenges in life, I can still look around me and respond to the needs I see. We do not have to be perfect to be “Ordinary Angels.” 

Rated PG for thematic content, brief bloody images and smoking, Ordinary Angels opens in theaters on February 23, 2024. 



Copyright 2024 Lisa M. Hendey
Images: copyright 2024 Lionsgate, all rights reserved.

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