Should Catholics Watch Cabrini? A Catholic Movie Review

Hi, I’m Matteo Rivera, the Cinematic Catholic, and I just watched “Cabrini,” the story of the first American Saint and her struggles with coming to America and all the challenges she faced as a woman and an Italian immigrant. Let me just say right off the bat, this is a juggernaut of a movie.

Should Catholics Watch Cabrini? A Catholic Movie Review

There is so much happening thematically and visually in this movie that worked for me on so many levels. Cinematically, this movie reminded me much more of the recent Elvis biopic than any religious movie I have ever seen, and I mean that as a very good thing. The cinematography in this movie is absolutely stunning, and I am curious to know how much of this was shot practically and how much of it was enhanced with CGI because this movie really captures late 19th-century New York City, and at no point did I think, “Oh, they’re very clearly on a soundstage right now.” The world that the director, Alejandro Mon Verde, recreates in this movie is completely fleshed out and very captivating to look at.

Also, just as a filmmaker and someone who loves movies—I mean, you can see all my Blu-rays behind me right now, like I live and breathe movies—it was very exciting for me to get lost in a movie like this. From the storytelling to the main cast, it just gripped me and did a really good job of holding on pretty much until the credits rolled. This movie focuses on two points of adversity for St. Cabrini: one being her struggles as a woman in the church and the other being her fight for basic rights as an Italian immigrant in New York City. I’ve got to give props to the studio and filmmakers because I know that Angel Studios has a strong conservative base, but this movie did not shy away from the very pro-immigrant beliefs that Cabrini herself had, and at its core, this is an immigrant story. Hopefully, that’s not a turnoff for some people, although those are probably the people that need to see this movie the most. But that was one of the story elements that I found very captivating, and it added a lot of authenticity and heart to this film in a way that I was not expecting.

Also, this movie did not hold back any punches as far as its dramatic and more suspenseful moments go. There’s a scene in this movie where Cabrini and her nuns first arrive in America. They befriend a prostitute while wandering the streets, and she kind of has this Mary Magdalene arc where she joins the sisters and helps them open their orphanage. But then there’s a moment where the pimp comes to recollect his prostitute, and I’ll be honest, when that scene was going on, I forgot I was watching a religious movie. I was so pulled into that scene and the performance of the actors. It felt much more like I was watching something out of “The Godfather,” and I think it’s really, really good for a movie like this to make me feel that way.

Is Cabrini A Religious Movie?

Which brings me to another point: I’m not even sure that I would call this a religious movie. And I’ll tell you what I mean by that. This movie is a biopic about a woman who was able to overcome adversity and achieve great things, who also happened to be a Catholic nun that later became a canonized saint in the church. But there were basically none of the religious tropes and things that you would come to expect from what people think of when they hear the term “faith-based film.” I talked about “Ordinary Angels” last week and how I enjoyed that movie, but there were a few scenes where the message was a little on the nose. This movie is the complete opposite of that, and I did see some reviews that said that they wished that God had a bigger presence in this movie. But here’s the thing: I think He does. It’s just a little more subtle. This movie is so much more about seeing faith in action and seeing all of the things that Cabrini had to overcome, which are only possible by the grace of God. And I do think that there is enough space in the Catholic movie landscape for a movie like this, which is much more of a straight shot and just a look at her life, which is an amazing story in and of itself. And I do think that it makes this movie more digestible for people that may not be religious.

I may be letting my filmmaking brain take over a little bit more than my Catholic brain on this one, but one of the first things that you learn in filmmaking is “show, don’t tell.” And as Catholics, we are called to live our life in a way where people can see Christ through us. And I do think that this movie does an excellent job at showing God’s work through Cabrini and how when you live your life to serve God, nothing can stand in your way, even if it looks like the entire world is against you.

This movie clocks in at about 2 hours and 20 minutes, and you can kind of start to feel the runtime towards the third act. But thinking back on it, I’m not really sure if there’s anything that I would cut out of this movie because it really does take you through everything that she had to overcome, every person that told her that she couldn’t do it. And to go back to where she belonged, because of that, you really do see how much more powerful God is than any sort of hate or prejudice that is in this world. Every single thing that could have gone wrong to prevent Cabrini from accomplishing her goal did happen, and despite that, God’s will was still done, which shows that it not only takes faith but putting that faith into every single thing that you do, living your entire life for the glory of God. And that is what St. Francis Xavier Cabrini did.

So, for my overall score, I am giving this movie a 9 out of 10. This is a real piece of cinema, and to be honest, I cannot wait to add this to my collection. And Angel Studios, if you are watching this, please release this in 4K because this is one beautiful movie.

Cabrini Catholic Rating

And for my Catholic score, I’m going to give this a 10 out of 10. The presence of God in this movie is subtle, but it is there, and I believe that this movie and Cabrini’s story will inspire an entirely new generation of saints for the world today because this fight is not over yet.

But, guys, that is it for this video. I hope you enjoyed my review. Once again, my name is Matteo Rivera, and until next time, Ave Maria.

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