Film Review: Sabrina (1995)

“Who’s Sabrina?
‘The chauffeur’s daughter’”

Since I don’t really watch old films (I know, I know…), I can’t compare this 1995 remake of Sabrina to the Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn-starring original from 1954 but quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to as the newer film feels like it might have well come from the 1950s as well as it is horrendously staid and uninspired. The ugly duckling daughter of the family chauffeur, Sabrina Fairchild spends her life on the edges of the fabulously rich Larrabee dynasty, marvelling at the business sense of older son Linus and dreaming of handsome younger son David yet barely noticed by either.

When she is packed off to France for an internship with Vogue magazine, her two-year stay in Paris becomes transformative and when she eventually returns to Long Island, David is instantly taken with her despite not recognising who she is and the fact that he is engaged to another woman Elizabeth. Elizabeth just happens to be the daughter the owner of the next big business Linus wants to do a deal with and so not wanting the deal to be scuppered, he sets about seducing Sabrina’s attentions away from David. As this is a romance, he of course falls in love in the process but is unable to admit his feelings, 3 guesses as to whether it all works out in the end…

The main problem though is with the performances in Sydney Pollack’s film. Greg Kinnear is passable in his first big role as David but Harrison Ford is shocking as personality-free Linus and Julia Ormond, bless her, is just blank as Sabrina, the pair of them sleepwalking through what is meant to be a torrid affair with no sexuality or chemistry of any sort. Even in the arms of the delicious Patrick Bruel as a randy photographer, Ormond struggles to show much emotion and it was only the promise of a rare English role for Fanny Ardant that kept me going, as the Vogue editrix (who has a remarkable amount of time for her junior, we’re definitely pre-Wintour here) who dispenses gnomic wisdom. Avoid. 

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