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Ford, Kinnear charm as dueling brothers in Sabrina

SABRINA

Directed by Sydney Pollack.

Starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear.

Sony Nickelodeon.

By Kamal Swamidoss
Staff Reporter

Iwent to see Sabrina at the cinema because of its actors and because the story seemed interesting. I left the film with a new respect for the actors and a lot of questions about the story. It's basically a love story, complemented by classic comedy undercurrents. Julia Ormond plays the title role, the daughter of the chauffeur of a very wealthy New York family. In this family are two sons, Linus and David, played by Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear.

When the story starts Sabrina is in love with David, the less business-minded of the two brothers, but David barely knows who she is. Sabrina's dad sends her to Paris to help her forget him. After she "finds" herself in Paris and comes back to New York, David is stunned by the woman she has become. The problem is that he's now engaged to another woman even though Sabrina hasn't completely gotten over him.

As David starts to fall for Sabrina, Linus engineers a solution to make the original engagement stick. He decides to take David out of the picture and to woo Sabrina himself. It's a really complicated idea on paper (reminiscent of Seinfeld's "roommate switch"), but executing it proves to be even more so. I'll talk about this later, but first let me discuss my new respect for the film's actors.

One of the main reasons I went to see Sabrina was to see Greg Kinnear perform in a new medium. I had seen him a couple of times on his television show Talk Soup, and I've seen every one of his Eagle commercials. He seemed like a funny enough guy to get me interested in seeing how he'd do in this film. I wasn't disappointed. I was surprised to see that his character didn't have a lot of screen time, though.

Harrison Ford has shown a knack for comedy in several of his previous films. He maintains that the Indiana Jones flicks were comedies, and you can't dispute that he was funny in the Star Wars films. But this knack has developed into downright skill in Sabrina. It's been refined, and has become more sophisticated. He also maintains the abstractness of Linus, his ability to appear stone-cold or heart-warming without revealing his true intentions.

I had only seen Julia Ormond once before, in First Knight last summer. I thought her performance was convincing but certainly not outstanding. But she's great in Sabrina. She plays a challenging part (she has to transform among three scenes from an awkward girl to a captivating young woman) with subtlety and fire. This time Ormond is definitely outstanding, adding to the deep tone present throughout much of the film.

Ormond and Ford play their characters with such complexity that it was really hard for me to tell how they felt toward each other at any given moment. If I were just reading their lines from the script, I would probably be puzzled, but the spin induced by their unique performances amplified the effect. I was constantly wondering about their intentions and their feelings toward each other. This was good; it made for refreshingly difficult characters. By the way, I hadn't seen the original, and I didn't know how it would end until it ended, and then I found myself questioning the ending.

Sabrina was an entertaining film. I thoroughly enjoyed the actors' performances, especially those of Ormond and Ford, even though they often intensified the inherently difficult story. In fact, I think that's the main reason I enjoyed the film. In the vast majority of today's films, it's too easy to determine each character's feelings and motives based on his/her actions and expressions. It's much more interesting to have a story and performances to puzzle over. Sure, this raises a lot of questions about why the story unfolds in the way it does, but then the viewer is left thinking about all of the possibilities presented by a complex performance at each critical point in the story. If Linus is saying this in this context and in this tone, what can I say about how he feels toward Sabrina? I was asking myself this type of question throughout the film, and I liked it.