Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) has grown up on the Larrabee estate, watching David (William Holden) as he grew up alongside her. Now she watches him at the society parties on the estate from the tree overlooking the veranda as he seduces young socialites. Hoping she'll get over David, Sabrina's father packs her off to cooking school in Paris.
When she returns with a new haircut, a new outlook, and a new dog (but no talking black cat!), David does the predictable thing: he falls for her. Unfortunately for the Larrabees, David's newfound affection for Sabrina puts a damper on their plans to marry him off to a fellow mogul's daughter (thereby furthering a merger). Linus (Humphrey Bogart, in a part originally intended for Cary Grant), David's older brother and the current head of Larrabee Industries, decides to woo Sabrina away from David in order to salvage the deal.
The class conflict perceived by Fairchild and the elder Larrabees isn't much of an issue for the younger characters. It is, as they point out, twentieth-century America, where rags-to-riches stories are legend. The real problems lie in Sabrina's shallow infatuation with David and, once she has gotten over that, Linus' inability to admit his own feelings to himself. Linus is so screwed up over his newly-awakened emotions that he nearly ruins both his relationship with Sabrina and the merger.
Bogart's placement in Sabrina was so distracting that we found ourselves resorting to a tried-and-true tactic to determine the real focus of a movie. In these cases, we devote our mental resources to figuring out which character is the android from the future. Unfortunately, Sabrina didn't respond well to this kind of analysis, even when Bogart unexpectedly emptied a revolver while standing in his office. It's funny: Sabrina had well-written snappy patter, quirky supporting characters, and not once did anyone hop onto a Harley or outrun an exploding fireball on foot. It's not like modern films at all.
Review date: 7/13/98
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