‘Cabrini’ Review – The Power Of Love Conquers All

Cabrini Dell'anna
Christiana Dell'Anna as Francesca Cabrini getting in the habit in Cabrini (2024), Angel Studios

The latest release from Angel Studios came out a month back and is still holding strong in some regions even though it might have fallen off everyone’s radar by now. Cabrini, which is by the same director as Sound of Freedom, isn’t poking bears or sounding alarms in the way that timely film did, but it seeks to be as ambitious.

Cabrini in Rome
Mother Cabrini (Cristiana Dell’Anna) goes to The Vatican in Cabrini (2024), Angel Studios

In the film which is set in the 1880s, intrepid nun Francesca Cabrini (Cristiana Dell’Anna), better known today as St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, is denied permission to go to China (true story) and sent to New York by the Pope (Giancarlo Giannini) to serve America’s growing Italian population that is impoverished, and its orphaned children.

But the problem is everybody is in her way – local pimps, high society, NY’s political class, some in her community, even people in the Church itself. If that wasn’t enough, Mother Cabrini suffers from a debilitating cough and might only have a few years left to live.

Pope Leo
Giancarlo Giannini as Pope Leo XIII in Cabrini (2024), Angel Studios

There’s more to it, but I won’t get into heavy spoilers. Besides, if you are a history buff and the Gilded Age is your back-to-front area of expertise, you already know what to expect.

I also won’t compare Cabrini to Sound of Freedom extensively because they aren’t that much alike although they originate from the same director and distributor. Likewise, while they deal with similar subject matter, the children Cabrini helps, for instance, are abandoned but not trafficked.

Mina Severino as a young Cabrini saved from drowning in Cabrini (2024), Angel Studios

Struggles cut through the heart of the story, but reflect the usual themes of class, culture, and intolerance. The film sets a high bar for the ‘stranger in a strange land’ trope right out of the gate with a child who doesn’t speak English pushing his dying mother around in a wheelbarrow.

Kids die, people get shot, and the dreariness of New York’s Five Points of the period is depicted vividly, but things mostly coast after that big scene where the boy is unable to find help for his mom.

From the beginning, the bridge too far for every character who’s not Italian is that all these poor and needy people, but especially the children, are Italians. It’s a fact of history, that Italians were a discriminated group, but it’s a quaint notion in hindsight audiences need a crash course in.

Cabrini is a woman
Mother Cabrini (Cristiana Dell’Anna) meets New York’s Mayor (John Lithgow) in Cabrini (2024), Angel Studios

The film has a few moments where it drives the plight of America’s first wave of Italians home, and it’s well-acted as a whole, but there was potential to go deeper. At times, they settle for the old History Channel reenactment approach before moving on to the next piece of adversity.

Back to the acting, the runaway performance is undoubtedly Cristiana Dell’Anna as the main and title character. She doesn’t simply step into the role; she becomes it. From start to finish, Dell’Anna is Francesca Cabrini in a flawless performance that would’ve earned Oscar buzz many moons ago.

Lithgow-Mayor of East Town
John Lithgow is Mayor of New York in a smoke-filled carriage in Cabrini (2024), Angel Studios

We don’t live in that time anymore but like similar pictures, The Song of Bernadette and A Man For All Seasons, Cabrini could have been Oscar and festival bait once upon a time. It even attracts a modicum of star power. 

John Lithgow, who has an Oscar contender under his belt this year (Killers of the Flower Moon) and plays NY’s Mayor, never stopped working but proves again he can still bring that twinkle in his eye to a supporting antagonist after all these years.

Overall, Cabrini is a moving film that will tug at your heartstrings. It certainly tugged at mine and as a handful of movies currently in theaters either mock Christianity, deal in the occult (if not both), or feature an obnoxious female lead, it makes for a worthy alternative.

You can find showtimes where it is still playing on the Angel Studios website.

NEXT: ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ Review – Bringing Out A Dead Horse To Beat Under A Neon Moon




  • Christiana Dell'Anna's performance.
  • John Lithgow brings his charm.


  • The running time might be intimidating going into a first viewing.
  • Depictions of quaint prejudices lack a little depth.
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