“Sabrina,” directed by Sydney Pollack and released Dec. 15, 1995, is about a once-unattractive and unnoticed chauffeur’s daughter (Julia Ormond), who grew up among the staff of the Larrabee mansion and developed unreciprocated feelings for the young, reckless, and somewhat spoiled David Larrabee (Greg Kinnear). After leaving the mansion to spend two years in France working for Vogue magazine, she returns with new beauty, confidence, and poise having “found herself in Paris.” With the transformation of her appearance, she finally captures David’s admiration, but when his business-minded brother, Linus (Harrison Ford), learns that this possible union would ruin a $1 billion merger, he sets out to win Sabrina’s heart under false pretense, just long enough for the contracts to be signed.
Throughout the film, the sensitive, somewhat unsure Sabrina often appears weak compared to the stone-cold, scheming, manipulative businessman that is Linus Larrabee. But Sabrina’s quiet strength is the only force that can penetrate the heart of a man like Linus, and it does exactly that. The positive transformation of Sabrina’s outward appearance attracts David’s fleeting attention, but the beauty of her soul is the only thing strong enough to rescue Linus, “the world’s only living heart donor.”
“Sabrina” addresses the concept of beauty. When asked if she knows how beautiful she is, Sabrina simply replies, “no,” as if she is perfectly content not knowing. Every human being struggles with feeling less than beautiful, insignificant, unknown. When Sabrina leaves the boundaries of the mansion that had, all her life, been a picture of what she wanted but couldn’t have, she discovers a world that is hers for the taking; she realizes beauty isn’t a result of who chooses her but of who she chooses to be. Sabrina is therefore not afraid to love, not afraid to risk being hurt.
The film, a remake of the 1954 version starring Audrey Hepburn, received multiple award nominations specifically for the original song “Moonlight,” by John Williams, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman. Harrison Ford was also nominated for “best performance by an actor in a motion picture comedy or musical,” and Greg Kinnear won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for “most promising actor.”
I’ll admit I have a mild obsession with 90’s chick flicks (and maybe Harrison Ford), but “Sabrina” is more than just a feel-good movie. Without meaning to, Sabrina saves Linus from living without being truly alive. With her newfound appreciation for simplicity, she strides back into a world that no longer owns her and proves that more isn’t always better. The softness of her voice and the steadfastness of her convictions offer a superior perspective of beauty, as well as a sense of consistency and dependability that remind us we probably need to be rescued, too.