While Audrey Hepburn has many iconic roles to her credit, her turn as Sabrina Fairchild is largely overshadowed by the likes of Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Princess Ann (Roman Holiday), and Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady). Released in 1954, Sabrina is a story of transformation and love wrapped up in a palatable romantic comedy package. The film may be over 60 years old, but has many relatable lessons for millennials trying to navigate the world of careers and relationships. For our generation, this is a classic not to be missed.
We see that love knows no hierarchy
Sabrina’s father has worked as the Larrabees’ — a wealthy family with a powerful company, and large estate — chauffeur for many years. For almost as many years, Sabrina has been in love with the Larrabees’ youngest son — the lazy, lustful David. David’s frequent ignorance toward Sabrina’s feelings for him finally becomes unbearable, and Sabrina attempts suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning — only to be saved by David’s older brother, Linus.
We learn that true love does wait
After her brush with death, Sabrina leaves for culinary school in Paris for two years, and comes back a different woman. Gone is the uncertain, lovesick young lady, who is replaced with a refined and confident woman. And, the now-engaged David notices. Panicked that the dissolution of the engagement could ruin a profitable business deal, Linus attempts to distract Sabrina, and keep David’s advances on her at bay by perusing Sabrina himself.
We understand that people change, and it can be for the good
Upon her return home, Sabrina’s change in appearance and attitude are immediately apparent. But, throughout the film, the men interested in the new and improved Sabrina also transition into better versions of themselves. Initially, Linus only claims to be infatuated with Sabrina. Over time, he not only genuinely comes to love her, but also becomes more relaxed, and less focused on the company as his only source of pleasure and happiness. It is David who is forced to be more responsible, and think not only of his own promises to his soon-to-be wife, but also the welfare of a company he may one day control. Isn’t that what love — both love for ourselves and others — is supposed to do… help bring out the best in each person?
We learn that we’re not the only ones with doubts in relationships
Sometimes, it is difficult to know whether or not the person we are dating is a person who is good for us. Sabrina has always been attracted to David, but before acquiring her worldly culinary education, he paid her little mind. Shouldn’t the person we are meant to be with stand by us, even when we are not at our most beautiful, put-together versions of ourselves? Relationships should be more than just beautiful backdrops for our selfies, and shout outs when bae cooks you dinner.
We’re reassured that it’s not just us that hate talking about our feelings
Unfortunately, when Linus feels the stirrings of love for Sabrina, he cannot even admit to them himself. Whether it is because he is much older than Sabrina, or because of the guilt he feels for not coming clean about his intentions, Linus cannot see himself as being right for Sabrina. Perhaps an audience might feel similarly when one considers the pain it would cause both parties in real life. For millennials, internet dating has caused its own set of problems — many of which are based on a lack of honesty, and an uncertainty about what each person wants (Are we officially dating? Are we exclusive? Are we merely a hookup? Are we just “hanging out?”).
Suicide awareness is prevalent, and that’s a huge step for this time period
Sabrina brings up suicide, in a time where the subject was very much taboo. In our modern world, where suicide games are a horrifying trend, and a young woman has gone to jail for encouraging the completion of such an act, the very mention of suicide should strike a very real chord in millennial hearts. Thankfully, Linus is there to stop Sabrina from making an irreversible mistake, and she takes her second chance at life as an opportunity to go on an adventure — and become the person she has always wanted to be. Think of all the love and heartache, support and disappointment Sabrina would have missed out on. No one will ever know what changes could make all the difference. We should continue to discuss this issue so that our generation can continue to pursue our passions, fall in love, and live the lives we’ve all always wanted.