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Sabrina (1995)

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: PG

Running Time: 127 minutes

Starring: Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear, Nancy Marchand, John Wood, Lauren Holly

Screenplay by: Barbara Bendek & David Rayfiel
Based on the film written by: Billy Wilder and Samuel Taylor and Ernest Lehman
From play by: Samuel Taylor

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.95

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (17 Scenes)

Released: January 15th, 2002

 

 

Ah, remakes. I guess you can't blame Hollywood for remaking films... I mean, when remakes occurs, they're usually based on beloved classic films that we treasure and love so much (but there are always a few that are based on movies that haven't had much of an impact, let alone films that people have never even heard of). Why does Hollywood do this? Why, to make money of course! For some reason, even though people know they'll like the original better, they'll still go pay money to see them, seeing what different creative forces bring to the the story. In a good deal of remakes, characters name change, the plot changes and it almost feels like a different movie. Personally, I feel when remakes are done, they don't bring anything new to the concept, but rather, bring less than what the original had. I usually see them as pointless... but for some reason, I do watch them. I've yet to see a remake that is better than the original. So my advice is to always go with the original (and don't get me started on why certain movies should NEVER be remade...). However, then there is "Sabrina." Yes, the original is a much better movie. But I actually think this is one remake that doesn't completley ruin the original film, and is pretty entertaining.

In case you don't know what "Sabrina" is about, it's the romantic comedy that follows a chauffeur's daughter by the name of Sabrina Fairchild (Julia Ormond). Her father Tom is the chauffeur for the Larrabees, a business family of billionares. Sabrina has been nurturing a crush on the young Larrabee son David (Greg Kinnear), who is rather aimless in life despite the background he has as far as money and education. But things change when Sabrina is sent off to Paris by her father for a good deal of time to work at Vogue magazine. There, she starts off like she did at home - insecure, fearful of many things and gawky.

Yet when she comes back, she's the total opposite of what she once was. Charming, passionate and beautiful. So much, that David doesn't even recognize that it's her. But her crush on David has somewhat faded, since he has plans to marry doctor Elizabeth Tyson (Lauren Holly) where as Sabrina was informed of this during her trip. This is where David's older brother Linus (Harrison Ford) comes in. Linus is quite the opposite of David. He's not the party type and is incredibly serious, especially about business. Linus never seems to have the time for love. Linus is interested in a billion dollar merger with Elizabeth's parents and their own business who have revoultionary technology.

Yet here comes the problem. David, despite the engagment, comes very attracted to Sabrina. Linus notices this, and needs to diverse Sabrina so the big deal can go through. Elizabeth is away and Linus spends time with Sabrina... and the two start to get closer and closer, whereas Linus reveals a side he's never shown before, all thanks to Sabrina. As he starts to realize it, both brothers are falling for the same girl. But who will win who's heart? What about the merger? Like in most romantic tales, a little magic can go a long way.

Like I said earlier, "Sabrina" is actually an enjoyable film that is really entertaining. By no means does it exceed or live up to the original, but on its own merrit, it really works well. It's impossible to NOT compare it to the original, but I won't spend time on that because, like I keep saying, I do prefer the original instead of going on about its flaw, the differences and whatnot. But the point is whether you do compare the film to the original version or you don't, there's no denying that this remake is a good watch, a fine date movie and is really good.

I think credit for that deserves goes to director Syndey Pollack. Sure, he's had his fair share of hits and misses, but this is one of his better outings for sure and I think he makes the film what it is. He creates a whimiscal and charming tale, where not much thinking is involved. Like the original "Sabrina," this remake plays out emotions and feelings within our hearts naturally and appropriatly. The film runs a little over two hours, but feels like a breeze. There is a good even sense to what we're presented with. Pollack also captures sweet and lovely shots of scenic Paris, the wondrous Larrabee estates, among other places. Writers David Rayfiel and Barbara Bendek must also be given credit for how things are played out, the sharp and rather witty dialogue and just that like the original, this one also feels like a fairy tale.

What also makes this film shine are the performances. Greg Kinnear, who after quitting his late-night talk show, has gotten a great line of character actor work. I think Kinnear is an underrated actor and he truly shines in "Sabrina." He perfectly plays out the character of David as it should be. Despite his aimless nature, he captures someone who is a lot of fun who must wake up and realize that he is caught in conflict when it comes to matters of the heart. Harrison Ford is simply flawless in his role as Linus. Linus is the cold business-type who only seems to care about the empire he's working on, but Sabrina opens his heart and he comes more and more warm, and we see there is a decent guy inside as he and Sabrina develop some sort of relationship. Julia Ormond is simply lovely as Sabrina. Her characters grows and develops throughout, not to mention that she's incredibly realistic, sweet and vulernable. Supporting performances from the late Nancy Marchand, John Wood and Lauren Holly are equally as winning and strong.

John Williams, like usual, writes one heck of a score. His composistions here are rather wondrous, capturing the emotions, the feelings, the charm and romance that the film offers. The songs, which he wrote the music for while duo Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote the lyrics are just as good that also fit quite well within the film.

Again, the original "Sabrina" is better... but this remake is a bit more modernized, has great performances, a great pace, wonderful directing, a strong scriptm, fine music and a lot of entertainment to be found within. 1995's "Sabrina" is a joy to watch, and really works better than one may expect.

 

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Sabrina" is a bit flawed as far as the transfer goes, but still looks quite good. There are pieces of dirt, scratches and blemishes here and there (a lot of imperfections can be found in the eleventh chapter), while the transfer is a bit on the soft side. Detail isn't as good as I hoped (some of the lovely scenic view shots could have been better) but color saturation and fleshtones are pretty good and natural. Shadow detail is fine, but what this transfer has a lot of is noise and the dreaded halo effect. For me, this got annoying quick since there's so much of it. The layer change is also a bit abrupt (that's in chapter eleven as well). Overall though, despite the flaws, this is a good transfer.

 

The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is good for what it is. "Sabrina" is a dialogue driven movie, and with that said the dialogue is clear and easy to hear. There's a nice crispness to this track, as other sound effects and music don't overlap the dialogue or one another for that matter. Most of the surround effects come from the lovely John Williams score and music selections that bring a nice ambiance to this track. .1 LFE isn't much, however. Some little surrounds like ocean waves in the background and little noises such as glasses swishing and the like bring more to it. Still, there's not too much. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track and a French stereo track, as well as English closed captions and English subtitles.

 

The spiffy Theatrical Trailer in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Comparisons or thoughts from the actors on this version compared to the original, the timelessness of the story would have been nice...

 

A sweet romantic gem, "Sabrina" did have a lot to live up to, but as far as an entertaining film and as a remake, I feel it's rather underrated given the talent involved and how it does work. There's only a trailer here, but the film's presentation is fine. Truly worth a rental if you like romantic comedies or liked the original version, but still worth getting if you really enjoy this remake.