I remember the back of the laserdisc for Sabrina said something about how, going in to the film, one knows what’s going to happen, but the film’s about enjoying it happen. For a back of the disc blurb, it’s incredibly accurate. Sabrina is a joy from start to finish, mostly because Sydney Pollack has put together a perfect film. The more obvious compliments will follow, but I need to mention the importance of Harrison Ford. Obviously, the film works because of Ford, but the way he makes it work is interesting. His performance is excellent because–for the film to work–the viewer has to be examining each of his mannerisms, each line delivery. There’s little things he does, especially towards the end, I think I’ve seen him do before, but never so well. The film focuses on him in a particular way–he’s not exactly the protagonist, not exactly not–in the last scenes and it’s wonderfully done.
The next obvious essential is Julia Ormond. She does the nebbish well, she does the posh well. But when it becomes clear the posh was just a cover, obscuring the intelligent woman underneath, that discovery is also fantastic. Her best scene, though, is her last one with Greg Kinnear, when she does this thing with her eyes. It’s amazing. Kinnear–another of Pollack’s casting gambles for the film (I wonder if he decided Ormond was perfect when testing her for the voiceovers, she does these brief dips in volume and they’re perfect)–is great too, especially since his character has the second most visual change throughout the film.
The supporting cast–Nancy Marchand, John Wood, even Richard Crenna–is all great. Sabrina also features John Williams’s last (as far as I can tell) explorative score–it’s fantastic–and some great editing. Fredric Steinkamp almost cuts the scenes too fast, not allowing for a breath following the punch lines. It makes the comedic scenes tight, but it also does something with the romantic and dramatic ones. It contributes to Sabrina‘s particular feel, which the wonderful location shooting in Paris obviously does as well.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Sabrina–less than ten years, nearing it–I don’t know if I was hesitant about watching it… I suppose I was a little, worried it wasn’t actually good. It’s better than I remember. From the moment the Paramount logo fades at the beginning, its excellence is clear.
Directed by Sydney Pollack; written by Barbara Benedek and David Rayfiel, based on the film written by Billy Wilder, Samuel Taylor and Ernest Lehman, from the play by Taylor; director of photography, Giuseppe Rotunno; edited by Frederic Steinkamp; music by John Williams; production designer, Brian Morris; produced by Scott Rudin and Pollack; released by Paramount Pictures.
Starring Harrison Ford (Linus Larrabee), Julia Ormond (Sabrina Fairchild), Greg Kinnear (David Larrabee), Nancy Marchand (Maude Larrabee), John Wood (Tom Fairchild), Richard Crenna (Patrick Tyson), Angie Dickinson (Mrs. Ingrid Tyson), Lauren Holly (Elizabeth Tyson, MD), Dana Ivey (Mack), Miriam Colon (Rosa), Elizabeth Franz (Joanna), Fanny Ardant (Irène), Valérie Lemercier (Martine) and Patrick Bruel (Louis).