Weekly Mini-Review: Sabrina (1954 & 1995)

Two for one today, since I’m reviewing the remake as well.

Linus (Bogart) at the party with Sabrina (Hepburn)

Sabrina (1954)

Story: The naive and sentimental daughter of a chauffeur who is smitten with one of the boss’s sons is sent to France to study at Le cordon Bleu and comes back more sophisticated and poised, causing a commotion in the wealthy family.

Review:  I didn’t realize it until I saw the more recent remake of the film, but the comedic elements in the film are really what make it a pleasure to watch. Bogart has surprizingly good comic timing for quips. Granted, the writing is a bit obvious in this picture, but Audrey Hepburn and the rest of the cast do such an excellent job in their parts that it stands out as one of the most sentimental Hepburn films. Both of the leading men are (as usual) way too old for Hepburn, but at least they used the situation within the story itself.

Recommended for: Audrey Hepburn fans, Meg Ryan Fans (because her films are vaguely similar in tone), people who like sentimental movies, and girls about to visit France.

Content Notes: (G)

Linus (Ford) at the party with Sabrina (Ormond)

 

Sabrina (1995)

Story: A nervous girl infatuated with the boss’s son goes to France to be a fashion photography assistant and returns more snide and determined, but gets somewhat willingly conned into dating the boss’s other son.

Review (contains spoilers): This is certainly much darker in tone than the original. Instead of just being a slick, fast-talking office-dweller, Linus (Harrison Ford) is a mean, heartless SOB in this version who decides to go off with Sabrina not because he loves her but because he “needs” her – presumably to be a better person. Yick. Rick is changed from a careless, somewhat brainless, and easily infatuated playboy into a somewhat guilt-ridden skirt chaser who secretly wants to be a businessman like Linus. I don’t blame the actor for the non-beleivability of this character though. The writing was internally dissonant, so it would have stunk regardless of casting. On top of that, there’s almost no comedy in this version. The plot of this film really can’t be taken seriously, so it kind of ruins the film to try to make it into an almost deadly serious love story. Also, having the character of Sabrina (Julia Ormond) make mean-spirited remarks and whop Linus in the gob (even if he did deserve it) makes a character that Hepburn embodied with such charm and grace seem considerably less than likable by comparison. I’m guessing this was done to “modernize” the character, but having a female lead be more independent and/or liberated doesn’t have to mean that she’s also bad tempered and has a vicous streak. There are a few other minor changes not worth mentioning. In short, watch the original; skip the faux version.

Recommended for: People who like flawed/incomplete romance films like Chocolat or City of Angels.

Content Notes: (PG) – Some swearing. hardly any though.

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