Sabrina Review

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Tha Chauffer's daughter is besotted with the aristocratic Larrabee and when she returns from Paris, all glammed up, he recipricates. Trouble is, he's already married. So the older brother steps in and falls in love with her too…


In 1954 Billy Wilder made the eminently loveable romance Sabrina Fair, in which two rich brothers fell for their chauffeur's daughter. It starred Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Humphrey Bogart, was a sizeable hit and didn't exactly call for a cynical 90s make-over.

But here it is, with Harrison Ford taking over where Bogart left off as the dull, workaholic older brother Linus, Greg Kinnear as the playboy, rapscallion David and Julia Ormond as the adorable Sabrina who tumbles back into their lives to comic and, above all, romantic effect.

Was it worth the effort? Well, yes and no. In no way does Pollack's leisurely, swanky version improve on the sultry, wishful Hepburn-fuelled delight of a bygone cinema. But this modern Sabrina still has plenty of innocent pleasure to impart in an age where movies strain to appeal to our basic instincts.

Sabrina is the awkward on-looker besotted with the devilishly handsome David Larrabee, who takes two years in Paris (at Vogue no less) to discover she is, in fact, a dazzling beauty. As soon as she's back in town David can barely control his hormones, the problem is he's already engaged to Lauren Holly, daughter of the Richard Crenna's company boss with whom the Larrabee firm are delicately manoeuvring a billion dollar merger.

So, Linus steps unto the breach, and cynically whisks Sabrina away from his bro only to fall for her himself.

It's all dreadfully old-fashioned. Supposed Wall Street player Ford is less Gordon Gecko than Mr. Chips on a bad day. His stiff-necked emotional ice-cube is a valid approach, but few sparks fly in the meltdown scenes with Ormond; there's nary a whiff of chemistry. Ormond has an appealing dreaminess, a beautiful inner-glow but here seems to lack of charisma. And Pollack pads out the fairy-tale with irrelevant posturing, flitting about Paris and New York with postcard obviousness.

Yet there is a charming, lack-of-responsibility to the film - it's all about ridiculously wealthy folks falling in love and breaking hearts, against a backdrop of palatial mansions, private jets and cocktail doos to shame Buckingham Palace.

It's pure, correctness-free fluff fired up by a script crackling with pithy bon mots, and knowing observations on the moneyed classes. And the supporting cast are uniformly excellent, especially the brightly naive Kinnear and John Wood's eloquent dependable English chauffeur.

Expectations of saying something valid about modern relationships should be ditched immediately. Hopes of some whimsical, romantic nonsense to dreamily while away a couple of hours are upheld gracefully, if, ultimately, somewhat forgettably.

Forgettable, innocent, old fashioned fairy tale with not nearly as much sexual chemistry as is required.