|"A woman happily in love, she burns the souffle. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven."|
|Time: 113 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Won Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Nominations for Best Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Director and Screenplay.
The very nature of a romantic comedy usually requires one to suspend all disbelief when it comes to the machinations of love, but Wilder asks too much this time around. Sure, the film has a fantastic cast and witty dialogue, however, the characters are half-heartedly drawn and the actual plot ridiculous in the extreme. Plus, it takes far too long to get going. It's easy to understand how Sabrina (Hepburn), the chauffeur's daughter, could find herself in love with David (Holden), the charming, young playboy who lives in the big house. Her father, in an attempt to break David's hold over the heart of his daughter, sends her to Paris for two years to study cooking. When she returns all sophisticated, she turns the head of her heart's desire, who, heretofore, never knew she existed. Railroaded into his current engagement by his older brother Linus (Bogart), David is willing to dump his fiancée and ruin a multi-million dollar deal in the process in order to woo Sabrina.
All her dreams seem about to come dream, however, she neglected to factor Linus into the equation. He's all business and is not about to have some young chippy, no matter how charming, destroy everything he's been working for. With David temporarily out of commission, Linus sets out to make Sabrina fall in love with him in order to save the merger. Like everything he does in life, Linus succeeds in his quest. Only this time, much to his surprise, it backfires on him, placing him on the receiving end of Cupid's bow. Now this would be all well and good, however, Linus is old enough to be her father with the personality of a wet noodle. Even when he's trying to be charming, he still comes off like a bitter accountant. How are we supposed to believe that Sabrina would give up a life long crush on the dim, yet fun-loving David for the affections of his dull older brother in less than a week? She's been living in Paris for God's sake, it should take a more than a little boat ride and a few nice dinners to turn her head.
I guess they thought that since Bogey was a bigger star than Holden we would just accept this sudden turn of events as the result of a grand amour. Not bloody likely. There's nothing at all romantic about their encounters. Wilder wanted Cary Grant for the part and it shows. His innate charm and cheekiness would have brought a lightness to the role that's sorely missing. Bogart was a great actor, but breezy comedies were not his forté. If it weren't for Hepburn's multi-layered performance, one would be hard-pressed to understand Sabrina's change of heart. She's not given much to do but be luminous and heart-broken, but she manages to bring great style, wit, strength and intelligence to the role. She's the only one who could have made this part work. Plus, her costumes are absolutely fabulous. I always find something to like in a Wilder film and SABRINA certainly has moments worth watching for, especially between Holden and Bogart. It just never quite works as the modern fairy tale it's supposed to be.