“Ordinary Angels” brings charm, emotion

Published 12:18 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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This week at the Tryon Theatre, we have Ordinary Angels, a sweet, if not saccharine, film that will warm hearts and tug at heartstrings in equal measure. 

At the center of this film is the tremendously authentic Hilary Swank, who anchors and grounds a film that could have quickly veered into Hallmark territory. Swank has always had a great talent for portraying earnest emotion and charming “everyday” characters; talent showcased in her performance of Sharon, one of the film’s two leads. The other player joining Swank in elevating this film is Alan Ritchson, a hulking wrecking ball of an actor whose physicality takes a back seat to his impressively intimate and tender portrayal of a loving and devastated father. Ritchson, a longstanding television actor, makes a convincing case for his leading man capacity as his performance of Ed demonstrates his range and depth. 

The narrative foundation of “Ordinary Angels” finds Sharon, a recovering alcoholic and self-acknowledged workaholic, soon indebted to a selfless and deserving cause when she learns of a deeply ill girl in her community and the girl’s single father working tirelessly to save her. Sharon, someone appreciative of the complex intersection of charity and pride, begins efforts to rally the community around this cause, hoping to turn the tide in this child’s fight. Additionally, this whole effort is exacerbated by the timing, as the film is set in the 1994 North American cold wave, an event that saw infrastructure and daily life impacted in devastatingly detrimental ways. With this narrative bedrock, the film finds itself in similar territory to many other feel-good tear-jerkers that have been made throughout the years, working within a conventional premise. However, such titles are not pursued for their novelty but rather for their reliability. 

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“Ordinary Angels,” like many of its cinematic brethren, will tease tears while also affirming the best of humanity in portrayals of selflessness and kindness. Sharon’s actions and efforts celebrate the optimism of humanity and demonstrate both her personal charity and the charity engendered by her faith.  

As a faith-focused film, there can always be the concern on behalf of an audience as to whether or not the portrayal of religion will feel like a natural extension of a character or proselytism, the latter giving an audience valid reason to balk. This film certainly trends to the former more so than the latter, with faith being an integral component of the characters’ beliefs, not necessarily a prescription for the viewer. We trust our audience to have the media literacy to appreciate that depiction does not necessarily equate to endorsement and that any differing belief in pursuit of charity and kindness is certainly laudable and worthy of a story. 

For any of our audience who are in need of kind affirmation, and some conventional charms, we encourage you to take a chance on “Ordinary Angels.” This film will surely draw some sniffles but ultimately leave you feeling happy and wholesome, if not overly sweetened. We hope to see you soon!