The First Must See Film of 2024: Cabrini

The First Must See Film of 2024: Cabrini February 2, 2024

When I went to see Cabrini (Angel Studios) a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was intrigued with what I had seen in the trailers, but I still didn’t know if the story would grab me or if the quality of the filmmaking would be up to par. But after the movie ended and the credits rolled, something amazing happened. The entire audience sat unmoving and completely still, watching each and every credit. You might think that was a little like watching the end of a Marvel film but let me assure you, it was not. In Marvel movies, the audiences still get buzzy. They whisper and talk about what they just saw while waiting for the various mid/post credit scenes that they have come to expect. With Cabrini, you could hear the popcorn popping in the lobby. There was no movement. Just a room of people who had shared something beautiful.

Then I did something that I have never done in my entire career. I texted every friend I have at Angel Studios and told them that it would be a crime if this movie wasn’t nominated for every possible award in Hollywood. It was that good.

Image courtesy of Angel Studios.

Cabrini, if you don’t yet know, is the story of a Catholic saint called Mother Cabrini. Here’s the official synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes.

From Alejandro Monteverde, award-winning director of Sound of Freedom, comes the powerful epic of Francesca Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who arrives in New York City in 1889 and is greeted by disease, crime, and impoverished children. Cabrini sets off on a daring mission to convince the hostile mayor to secure housing and healthcare for society’s most vulnerable. With broken English and poor health, Cabrini uses her entrepreneurial mind to build an empire of hope unlike anything the world had ever seen.



Here’s the trailer:

Now it’s no secret that over the years I have taken issue with the quality of faith films. As a whole, I don’t believe that we are doing what we should be with the talents and stories that God has given us to share. There are many layers for this and I do go into some of the reasons for that here if you’re interested:

Cabrini throws all of those concerns out the window and in my mind, has set the bar for what we should be creating as faith filmmakers. The camera work is stunning. Several times throughout the film I caught my breath because it was just so gorgeous. Large, sweeping cinematic landscapes and intricately woven set design set a balance of opposites. The filmmakers used gloriously imagined sets and gorgeous natural settings to explore an era of excess that stood in stark contrast to the poor dying in the streets. It’s impossible to leave this film unimpressed by its beauty.

The acting is also breathtaking. John Lithgow has proven over the years that he can do anything from comedy to drama and everything in between. In this role as a cunning, calculated turn of the century politician, it’s hard not to hate him at the same time that you have to respect the empire he has helped build.

And then there is the exquisite Cristiana Dell’Anna. Garbed in black and standing only at 5’5” (yes I looked it up because she seemed so small and slight throughout the film) she owns every single moment of time that she’s on the screen and even some that she’s not. Her presence and voice as Mother Cabrini are stunning, rich, and layered with personal demons and strength of will that can only come from God above. Her portrayal of this incredible woman will leave you feeling as if during your time in the theater, you personally met someone who is changing the world. This was the first film I have seen her in but I guarantee it will not be the last.

As you know, the script and story are always of vital importance to me and once again in this area, Cabrini did not disappoint. In fact I scribbled three full pages of notes in the dark while I watched this one. Beautiful quotes and unexpected twists (since I knew little to nothing about her before going into the film) held my attention and kept me fully engaged throughout the entire duration of the film. In fact when I got to the end, I couldn’t believe our time had come to a close. I was fully prepared to sit through more of her story and disappointed that it had ended. The unmoving, silent crowd in the theater let me know that I was not alone in this feeling.

This film releases on International Women’s Day (March 8th)  and it could not be more appropriate. This woman was the embodiment of motherhood. She cares for everyone. Sees everything. There’s no one and nothing she overlooks and her life was spent fully in service and care of others. Do not miss this film. Tickets are available now at Angel Studios website.

I would urge you to purchase them now. Make your plans. Put it on your calendar. This is one that must be enoyed in the theater as a shared experience with others. Be aware that it’s also very likely that after watching, you’ll want to take friends, church groups, and loved ones back again. It’s a movie that, much like Mother Cabrini herself, sticks with you, shifts your perspectives, and has the ability to change the world.

About Lori Twichell
Lori Twichell is a screenwriter, publicist and marketing director in the entertainment industry. You can read more about the author here.
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