KSL Movie Show review: ‘Cabrini’ tells the story of one of the toughest, kindest women in history

Mar 12, 2024, 11:57 AM

steve salles stands next to the poster for Cabrini....

In this KSL Movie Show review, host Steve Salles explores the real-life story of Sister Francesca Cabrini.

SALT LAKE CITY — Especially appropriate for Women’s History Month, comes along a biographical story of one of the toughest, kindest woman who would not take no for an answer.

Sister Francesca Cabrini (Cristiana Dell’Anna) was a 19th-century Catholic nun. She petitioned the Vatican many times in hopes of beginning a new order. The order was designed to help orphans and immigrants around the world.

She wrote so many letters, all rejected, to the pope that she decided to hop on a train from Lombardy to Rome to plead her case directly to His Holiness.

Again, she was told no.

But, she eventually got him to agree to a trial situation. He sent her and a handful of sisters to America, specifically New York City to begin her mission of mercy.

Cabrini in New York

Not surprisingly, she was not received with open arms by the local Archbishop Corrigan (David Morse).

He was ready to send her and her sisters back on the next boat to Europe. That was until she showed him a letter from the pope saying he had blessed the endeavor.

Not a good way to start, but she was off and running.

She sets up shop in the Five Points district, one of the tougher areas, but also filled with poor Italian immigrants and wayward children. She and her sisterhood were relentless in gathering orphaned children and helping the sick. Sister Cabrini was sick herself with a lung disease. But still, she would comb the back alleys late at night, in search of these kids without fear.

At one point, she is aided by a troubled prostitute who allows the nuns to sleep in her brothel apartment until the brothel owner yells at them to leave. Undaunted, the nuns lie low. They eventually help this young woman to get out from under the control of this horrible man.

Slowly, they gain the trust of the locals. The children are cleaned up and fed. A local doctor also agrees to see patients in need. Things are starting to change, but with that change comes the attention of the city’s mayor, Mayor Gould (John Lithgow) who has been hostile toward the Italians.

Perseverance at every turn

At every turn, Mother Cabrini is met with resistance. But for every “no” she received, she managed to convince people to say “yes.” Reluctantly, I might add.

You will be amazed at the number of times Mother Cabrini ran into this brick wall of doubt that she could effect any change in the system for the betterment of the people. She is relentless and hard-headed but keeps her eye on the prize.

I know this all sounds too good to be true and that the opposition looks like a bunch of Snidely WhiplashesDudley Do-Right’s antagonist — but the stories have been validated over the years.

Just wait until you see what she and her order accomplished. It’s mind-boggling given the amount of grief she suffered.

If I was to mention one negative aspect of the film, it’s that it’s a bit too long at two hours, 25 minutes.

Great story, terrific production values, and excellent acting. They just should have tightened it up a little, that’s all.

CABRINI (B+) Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some violence, language and smoking. Starring Cristiana Dell’Anna, John Lithgow, David Morse, Giancarlo Giannini and Romana Maggiora Vergano. Co-written and directed by Alejandro Monteverde (“Sound of Freedom” “Little Boy”) filmed in western New York and Rome. Running time: 145 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘Cabrini’ tells the story of one of the toughest, kindest women in history