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'Ordinary Angels' Follows a Flawed Woman Who Works a Miracle

| February 23, 2024 | By

An ordinary woman becomes an extraordinary heroine in the fact-inspired, faith-infused film Ordinary Angels, hitting theaters on Feb. 23.

Not Doing What Too Many Movies Do

The best movies are, at heart, well-told tales.

In too many faith-based movies, getting the Gospel message across comes at the expense of realistic characterization and solid storytelling. In too many mainstream movies, the desire to push female characters to the fore winds up feeling like "the future is female" propaganda, again, at the expense of telling a good story about real women's lives.

Neither of these happens in Ordinary Angels.

Who's Behind Ordinary Angels?

The film comes from Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, American Underdog, I Still Believe), founded by Christian filmmakers Jon and Andrew Erwin, and Kevin Downes. They're among the producers on Ordinary Angels, but this time, not credited writers or directors.

The film was originally supposed to be released on Oct. 13, until the theatrical behemoth that was the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour sent it into 2024.

Jon Gunn (The Case for Christ) directs from a screenplay by actress/novelist Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig (Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret), who adapted Ordinary Angels from the 2023 memoir of the same name by Sharon Stevens Evans. But, as Deadline reported:

Jon Gunn (The Unbreakable Boy) is directing, having written the most recent draft of the script with Jon Erwin. Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig penned an earlier draft.

There are some scenes emphasizing faith that do feel a bit like they were grafted on, and that may be because of Gunn and Erwin. Honestly, though, they're not necessary.

The story and characters are strong enough on their own -- and the key participation of a pastor and his congregation are part of the real events anyway.

The Screen Belongs to Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby, Alaska Daily) gives a powerhouse performance as Louisville, Kentucky, hairdresser Sharon, who's struggling with alcoholism and an estranged relationship with her adult son.

In the early 1990s, she reads a story in a local newspaper about a recent widower, Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson, Reacher), trying to raise two little girls. Both girls suffer from a rare and deadly liver ailment, and the younger one, Michelle, is on the list for a life-saving liver transplant.

As they wait, Ed struggles to pay mounting medical bills, both from his late wife and his children.

Needing a focus for her life and considerable energies, Sharon sets herself to improve the situation for Ed and his daughters -- even if Ed can't quite fathom the whirlwind stranger who's entered his life.

And Then Things Get Really Difficult

Sharon's almost magical ability to make things happen really kicks into high gear when a liver becomes available, and Michelle needs to be flown to Omaha, Nebraska. Unfortunately, this coincides with a huge, record-setting 1994 snowstorm that pummels Louisville, a town not used to regular heavy snows.

To get Michelle to her surgery in time requires Sharon to rally not only the contacts she's already made but the entire community. That includes the pastor and congregants of Southeast Christian Church, who must turn their snow-covered parking lot into a helicopter landing site.

The story sounds even more miraculous when you realize that the early '90s were before cellphones and social media.

As a contrast to the mainstream movies I mentioned at the beginning -- which I call "you go, girl" movies --  Sharon has problems, but she's not a victim, and she's not at war with the "patriarchy."

She's one of my favorite types of female characters -- an ordinary woman who achieves extraordinary things, and finds her own redemption by saving someone else.

Ordinary Angels Is Accessible Outside the Faith Audience

As a Catholic who isn't steeped in Evangelical culture and Christian Contemporary Music, I've had my issues with such Kingdom Story Company films as Jesus Music and Jesus Revolution, which seem tailored to the filmmakers' target audience but not a lot beyond that.

But, like Kingdom's 2021 film American Underdog, Ordinary Angels doesn't shove the faith content out front. And, like Underdog -- which starred Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin -- it features actors well-known to the mainstream audience. So, it has a real potential to appeal beyond the usual fans of faith-based fare.

It also helps that the characters feel flawed and real, and the script doesn't shy away from their weaknesses and conflicts. It's still a feel-good film, but it's one with its feet firmly on the ground.

And There Was Snow on That Ground

As a bonus, Ordinary Angels was filmed in Winnipeg, Canada, so the snow in this wintertime tale is real, unlike the fake snow sprayed up and down trees and walls in cable-TV Christmas films. This authenticity made filming more difficult, but it really sells the facts of the situation. From B.C. Catholic:
“There was a lot of snow there, which was great, but the big challenge is even when you have a lot of snow, you have to control that snow,” said Gunn. “We have traffic jams with half a mile of highway shut down, two feet of snow and 70 cars stuck. I think it took us about four days to transfer 150 truckloads of snow to build that traffic jam.”

The film is rated PG, and suitable for middle-schoolers and up. Take a look: 


Reprinted with permission from Kate O'Hare's Pax Culturati blog at

(L-R) Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson in 'Ordinary Angels.' PHOTO: Lionsgate Films

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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