Hollywood cannot resist a remake of a classic film. They think it is a sure moneymaker if the first was a proven winner. Thus, the remake of the classic Billy Wilder film, Sabrina. I reviewed the original a few weeks ago, and promised to see this remake and give you a report. It is rated PG for some mild language.
Directed by Sydney Pollack (Tootsie), it was updated from 1954 to 1995 with a great new screenplay. We are again privy to the lives of the super-rich Larrabee family on their Long Island estate. This time, they made Maude (Nancy Marchand), the matriarch of the family, a widow, and her two sons are Linus (Harrison Ford) and David (Greg Kinnear).
Sabrina Fairchild (Julia Ormand) is the gangly daughter of their chauffeur (John Wood). Sabrina is infatuated with David, a sort of puppy love that has not dimmed over the years, even though he remains inaccessible and self-involved. In this remake, Sabrina goes to Paris, but becomes a photographer’s assistant at a fashion magazine, a much better fit than her training as a chef.
When she returns to Long Island transformed (her physical transformation is more apparent than that of Audrey Hepburn’s in the first film), David is pulled into her wake, much to the dismay of Linus and their mother. David has recently become engaged to Elizabeth (Lauren Holly), a beautiful physician, with the added bonus that she is from an affluent family with business ties Linus and Maude covet. For this marriage to never happen would be decidedly inconvenient for their dreams of expansion.
Linus proceeds to monopolize Sabrina’s time in an effort to get her mind off David. I liked Harrison Ford in this role much better than Humphrey Bogart. Julia Ormand is fine, but if it had been possible, which of course it’s not, I would have liked Harrison Ford and Audrey Hepburn in the starring roles. William Holden or Greg Kinnear would be fine in either case.
Angie Dickenson and Richard Crenna play Elizabeth’s parents, and they add some spice and charm to the story. I liked that David fell for someone like Elizabeth, an intelligent woman who can keep him in line. David is not without his own smarts; he just hasn’t chosen to put them to good use yet.
This excellent screenplay gave more range to the actors. We really get to see Linus as a vulnerable man who has postponed love in exchange for empire building with his mother. The interactions between Linus and Sabrina are poignant, and I even shed a few tears! When Sabrina is won over by Linus, it comes as no surprise.
Billy Wilder gave a good plot to work with and Barbara Benedek and David Rayfiel successfully updated it by 40 years. I highly recommend this film. Linus and Sabrina’s characters are well delineated, making the ending more believable than the first Sabrina. Those class divisions that the rich want to maintain can only be broken down through love.