Fairy Tale Blogathon: Sabrina (1995)

I’m so happy and thankful to participate in this awesome blogathon created and hosted by Fritizi Kramer at her awesome site, Movies SilentlyBeauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales. It stars Belle, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing the original French film the Disney animated film was very loosely based off. Unfortunately, I found out about the blogathon late enough that someone had already selected every possible Beauty and the Beast-based film, that I almost decided not to participate. However, neither the 1954 nor 1995 Sabrina films, paying homage to Cinderella, had been selected yet. I had heard from a few people that they preferred the remake over the original, so I chose that movie, looking forward to being introduced to something new. And truly, the film didn’t disappoint.

Sabrina (1995) doesn’t exactly mirror the beloved animated Disney film, but it has all the bearings necessary to make it a fairytale without it getting into too corny of material. Julia Ormond plays Sabrina Fairchild, the Cinderella of the story. She’s highly relatable as the girl with a crush who simply has no impression of the man of her dreams . . . at the beginning. But after a trip to Paris to forget the man she’s convinced she’s in love with, she returns home with a new look, a new understanding of self, and wave of confidence.

As the chauffeur’s daughter of David Larrabee (Greg Kinnear) and his family, the man who she’s trying to look past, Sabrina is settled on moving forward with her life after returning home. But David and Sabrina share a meet cute when David notices Sabrina at the train station returning home, and unbeknownst to him, Sabrina is this gorgeous woman without a ride in need of his services. As David drives Sabrina home, he begs her to reveal her identity. Sabrina enjoys this newfound attention from the man she never seemed to be able to convince to notice her; that is, until they arrive home and David’s older brother, Linus (Harrison Ford), abruptly interrupts their conversation and announces that it’s Sabrina.

But the plot truly doesn’t thicken until later that evening when Sabrina falls under David’s spell David falls under Sabrina’s spell and announces to his mother and Linus that he no longer wants to be with Elizabeth Tyson, the woman to whom he is engaged. But it’s not just an engagement David would be breaking: it’s a billion-dollar merger forged between the Larrabees and the Tysons, if David were to snub Elizabeth, and thus the Tyson family’s company, with whom the merger was formed. As the calculating, business-only brother he is, Linus sees the situation as an opportunity: deceive Sabrina into liking him, convince David to stay with Elizabeth, and ultimately keep the billion-dollar merger in tack.

For a movie considered within the romantic genre, occasionally gesturing to the story of Cinderella, Sabrina contains a well-formed plot that while it moves a little slow in some parts, ultimately fits under the classic love-story scenario, and is driven home with three strong performances that pull at viewers’s heartstrings throughout.

Paris is used as the “place to get away,” the place to find one’s self, and it works so well in Sabrina. While she struggles to adjust to her short time away in a new place, Sabrina eventually makes friends, learns photography, and finds her place in Paris. It becomes the place that she looks back at fondly and loves, and it fully confirms what many Americans have always believed about Paris: it’s always a place to get away.

Harrison Ford plays Harrison Ford, but he does it so well under the guise of “Linus Larrabee,” that it’s easy to forgive him for playing a version of himself. The chemistry he shares with Julia Ormond is played convincingly, that you know from the moment they meet and he insults her – and she tells him that she knows what he’s doing – that they’ll certainly end up together, even if Cinderella’s story was significantly sweeter in nature. I really enjoyed Greg Kinnear’s performance as the playboy younger brother David who lacked all the responsibility in the world, but relied wholly on his heart to lead him from one woman to another. The contrast between Linus’s and David’s personality and actions is played out so well on screen, and it seems that only Sabrina is best able to point out each man’s lack of balance between work and play. The lines are blurred among the three titular characters when Linus can’t deny his attraction to Sabrina, and in David discovering his brother really isn’t “the only living heart donor,” David realized he must put on his suit, find where his office is, and play the responsible, logical brother in order to keep the merger in play and rescue his brother’s heart from breaking.

While I didn’t automatically think “Cinderella” when I was watching Sabrina, I did appreciate small cues here and there, such as Sabrina playing the role of a poor, unknown girl, the parties the Larabees threw feeling like the ball Cinderella never got invited to, and the sparkles in the gorgeous shrug Sabrina wore when she showed up to her first ball, earning the compliment of “dazzling” from David. And while Linus isn’t necessary a prince who rescues Sabrina, he does get to be in that overused scene in movies where there’s so much traffic, one is forced to run to said location in order to make it in time. And in time, he makes it to Paris, where Sabrina and he kiss to the fairytale ending of happily ever after.

Of course, Sabrina was one of the best movies I’ve seen that had a fairytale flair on an altogether overdone character story, but its most touching moments were aided greatly with an Oscar-nominated score composed by the legendary John Williams. And while it didn’t strike critics who couldn’t help but compare it the original film, I gladly give Sabrina 

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Huge thanks again to Fritizi for creating and hosting this fun event! Please do check out her post that links to all those participating in the Fairy Tale Blogathon.

It’s your turn now. Have you seen Sabrina, or its original counterpart? What were your thoughts on the film? Please join in the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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