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Home > Cabrini (2024): A Review

Cabrini (2024): A Review

Cristiana Dell’Anna in “Cabrini” | Image: Angel Studios

This Spring’s Faith-Based Film

It seems almost tradiiton that a faith-based film must be released near Easter. In years past, films such as Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is for Real, and Father Stu have all strategically made sure they came out near the holiday. 

This year Angel Studios, the production company behind numerous successful Christian projects, such as The Chosen, Sound of Freedom, The Shift, and After Death fill in that void. 

Cabrini’s Story

Coming off of his success with last year’s Sound of Freedom, director Alejandro Gómez Monteverde once again teams up with Angel Studios for Cabrini. The film follows the true story of Francesca Cabrini, who later became the first American saint, the patron saint of immigrants. Set in the late 19th century, Mother Cabrini visited the Pope at the Vatican in an attempt to found her own missionary order. 

Wanting to travel to China to build an orphanage, the Pope allowed her to go on her mission but asked her to go to New York instead due to the anti-Italian bigotry facing immigrants during that time. Upon seeing the city running rampant with crime, diseases, and impoverished children, Cabrini fought to secure housing and health care, building a ministry unlike anything else at that time. 

An Endless Runtime

Clocking in at 2 hours and 25 minutes, Cabrini could have benefited from a tighter story. Numerous times the narrative began to drag, causing the film to feel closer to the three-hour mark. It meanders around and takes a while to get going, Once the narrative finally kicks in and Cabrini begins her ministry work, the film begins to feel repetitive. It has a rinse-and-repeat feeling as if they were trying to reiterate the same message and story. 

Cabrini and the rest of the nuns move from location to location, growing their ministry and helping impoverished children. However, there’s a stretch of time in the middle of the story where the narrative begins to lack much nuance. This caused much of the repetitive feelings in the story and left the second act to fall flat. While there are inspirational moments and powerful scenes that depict the distinguished works of Cabrini, the film gets bogged down by the bloated runtime. 

Cristiana Dell’Anna in “Cabrini” | Image: Angel Studios

Beyond The Genre

Even though Cabrini struggles with its runtime and elements of its narrative, some elements prevent the movie from being an inferior film. It’s no secret that in the past, faith-based films have been viewed unfavorably by critics and audiences, even by religious people. 

These films typically suffer from being overly preachy and tacky. In recent years, with the help of films such as Nefarious, Jesus Revolution, and Sound of Freedom, the perspective of faith-based films being cheesy has begun to change for the better. In certain ways, Cabrini helps continue this trend, as the religious themes of the movie are infused into the story better, and the film doesn’t have the glossy, Christian movie feel. 

Rather than the story purely being a vehicle to push the message forward, the movie’s themes feel blended within the narrative. It also infuses other themes into the story, such as exploring sexism and Italian bigotry, which do not confine themselves purely to a Christian audience. 

It makes the film feel like it would be slightly easier for non-religious people to enjoy the film, rather than repel audiences. While there’s nothing wrong with movies targeting certain demographics and adhering to them, the religious messages of Cabrini are important. 

The handling of the Christian elements continues to show the shift filmmakers are making from the cheesy and ridiculous religious movies of the past to the more serious and grounded movies they can be.

Looking Like a “Real” Movie

Another critique Christian films of the past endured was the overall look of the projects. While the movies having a restricted budget did hurt them in certain areas, they tended to have an over-produced look. They usually had a Hallmark movie look in terms of the lighting, costuming, and mise-en-scène, where everything looks too clean and sparkly. 

A surprising part of Cabrini was how expensive the movie looked. With a reported budget of $50 million, every dollar is shown on screen. From the city streets, to the costuming, and the props, it all worked together to help immerse audiences into the setting of the story. The cinematography is also impressive at times with creative camera usage that helped keep the movie more engaging during the duller points of the film. 

Shredding The Cheesiness

Helping to keep a somber tone were the performances from the cast. Sprinkled throughout are some recognizable faces, most notably John Lithgow, but in all, everyone turned in a solid performance. At the heart of the film is Cristiana Dell’Anna as Cabrini, who, despite some weaknesses in her character, was enchanting in every scene. 

Dell’Anna is able to show a mix of vulnerability and strength, elevating the character above the screenplay. Typically, Christian films are known for including over-acting, yet Dell’Anna keeps the film stable and serious.

As for the character herself, the movie doesn’t provide much in terms of a character arc, She stays relatively the same from beginning to end, with only her achievements altering throughout the course of the runtime. This caused Cabrini to feel slightly hollow and stale at times, but Dell’Anna was able to hide some of these weaknesses through her acting. 

Unlike other faith-based films, Cabrini has numerous positive points thereby showcasing the growth the genre is undergoing. However, the story and pacing hold the film back and overshadow the highpoints. The movie drags too often and should have reduced its runtime by twenty or thirty minutes. Nevertheless, the acting, message, and technical aspects provide some value and prevent it from being a throw-away film. 

Cabrini is currently playing in theaters.

Cristiana Dell’Anna in “Cabrini” | Image: Angel Studios

Cabrini Final Angel Studios Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Mason Kupiainen is a recent Butler University graduate with a degree in Creative Media and Entertainment. His work has been published in Butler Collegiate, The Mall, and Byte BSU. Along with written work, he has a videography portfolio with Indy Blue Video, Byte BSU, and Ball Bearings.