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Reviews praise Hillary Swank’s performance in ‘Ordinary Angels’

Hillary Swank delivers a compelling performance as Sharon, a messy alcoholic who finds purpose in helping a grieving family in need, in the new drama Ordinary Angels. As per director Jon Gunn, Swank “calibrates Sharon’s spirited perseverance, as well as her susceptibility to angst and sorrow” with nuance and complexity.

Review of Hillary Swank in Ordinary Angels

Hilary Swank via TODAY
Hilary Swank via TODAY

According to reviews from Variety, Swank’s naturalistic acting provides grounding for the film’s predictable but moving story. “In Swank’s capable hands, the character’s predictable arc is made formidable, conjuring sympathy and strength in spades.” Her scenes with young co-stars Emily Mitchell and Skywalker Hughes also ring true, “rising stars in their own right, who efficiently deliver precociousness with the right amount of potency.”

Swank’s Sharon starts out “a mess” – a hairdresser and alcoholic living a lonely life, leaving “sloppy voicemails” for her estranged son. But after a friend pushes her to get help, Sharon finds purpose in helping the Schmitt family, whose matriarch Theresa (Amy Acker) has recently died, leaving father Ed (Alan Ritchson) struggling to care for sick daughter Michelle (Mitchell).

As Sharon selflessly shoulders the family’s stresses, eventually organizing a drive to transport Michelle across a snowstorm for emergency surgery, her own demons resurface. Gunn uses visuals like a blurred bottle of liquor to depict Sharon’s battle with alcoholism and sense of inadequacy as a mother and caretaker.

While flawed, Sharon’s efforts to help still ring true. As Variety writes, “There’s nothing more heartening than seeing community banding together to help desperate folks out, especially a family suffering from death and disease.”

Swank’s imperfect but persevering character reminds that “it doesn’t take heavenly miracles” but rather “empathy” and “go-getter gumption” to make a difference.

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More About Ordinary Angels

Hilary Swank via CBS
Hilary Swank via CBS

While the film fictionalizes some real-life details for drama, Sharon in real life was not an alcoholic battling with motherhood – its core sentiment remains genuine. Viewers see how selfless acts, especially in difficult times, can change lives.

The movie isn’t without flaws – some plot points feel simplistic or overstated. But overall, Gunn and the writers find nuance amidst the sentimental premise.

While buoyed by Swank’s performance, the film stands on its own as a poignant drama about ordinary people uplifting each other in hard times. The fictionalization of real events serves the ultimate real-life message: “It doesn’t take heavenly miracles” but rather human compassion and willpower “to get out of trouble.”

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Ordinary Angels was released on 22 February 2024. It’s available to purchase or rent on digital platforms like Amazon and Apple.

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