Incapable of Love?

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.

I don’t like romantic comedies, but I love the movie Sabrina.  I’m pretty sure that my love of Harrison Ford overpowered my chick-flick resistance and suckered me into this one.  If Han Solo puts on a suit and tie and decides to change his name to Linus Larrabee, then I won’t apologize for watching and enjoying and silently waiting for Chewie to show up in a cameo appearance.

(Side Note: I realize this movie is a remake of some classic movie from the 1950’s.  I have been told this many times.  I have also been told that this movie is not nearly as good as the 1954 original, but I reject this notion on the premise that any movie with Harrison Ford is better than the same movie without him.)

The movie is about a young woman (Julia Ormond) who happens to be the daughter of a chauffeur for a very wealthy family.

“Once upon a time, on the north shore of Long Island, not far from New York, there was a very very large mansion, almost a castle, where there lived a family by the name of Larrabee. There were servants inside the mansion, and servants outside the mansion; boatmen to tend the boats, and six crews of gardeners: two for the solarium, the rest for the grounds, and a tree surgeon on retainer. There were specialists for the indoor tennis courts, and the outdoor tennis courts, the outdoor swimming pool, and the indoor swimming pool. And over the garage there lived a chauffeur by the name of Fairchild, imported from England years ago, together with a Rolls Royce; and a daughter, named Sabrina.”

She lives above the detached garage next to the family beachfront mansion.  She’s not very pretty or noticeable when the movie begins.  She’s getting ready to leave on a trip to Paris.


Oh, and by the way, she’s desperately in love with the David Larrabee (Greg Kinnear).

David and Linus Larrabee are brothers, but they are nothing alike.  Their father died when they were boys, and each of them grew into completely different men.  They clearly love one another, but neither understands the other’s life.  Linus is a businessman.  David is a rich playboy.

Linus makes Donald Trump look like a hobbyist.  He makes money.  He buys companies.  He’s powerful and respected and always right.

David is the screw up.  He has a new girlfriend every week.  He nonchalantly spends the family’s money, which Linus makes, and does whatever he pleases.

There’s a subtle tension in the relationship that occasionally surfaces.

David Larrabee: You’re talking about my life.

Linus Larrabee: I pay for your life, David. My life makes your life possible.

David Larrabee: I resent that.

Linus Larrabee: So do I.


Linus Larrabee (Harrison Ford) argues with David Larrabee (Greg Kinnear) in Sabrina (1995)

The basic plot of the movie is as follows:

  • Sabrina goes to Paris and transforms herself into a beautiful, confident young woman.
  • When she comes back, David falls in love with her, but he’s already engaged to another woman.  This new romance with Sabrina threatens a business deal that Linus is working on.
  • So Linus decides to make Sabrina fall in love with him.  He pretends to love her back, but he’s really just trying to get rid of her so she won’t interfere with the big business deal.

Something strange happens to Linus, though.  As he’s trying to get Sabrina to fall in love with him, he accidentally falls in love with her.  This doesn’t happen all-of-the-sudden.  It happens gradually as they talk and listen to one another.

The closer Linus gets to Sabrina, the more meaningless his business life seems.

Sabrina picks his life apart, questioning his heart and his character and his lack of joy and passion.  She is relentless in her observations of him, and he is repeatedly surprised by the way her words cut to the heart of who he is.

Sabrina: You probably don’t believe in marriage.

Linus Larrabee: Yes, I do. That’s why I never got married.

Over the course of time, the plan seems to work.  Sabrina does fall in love with Linus.  No one is more surprised by this than she is.  She realizes that her crush on David was just a fantasy – an “illusion”, as the movie describes it.  Her feelings for Linus are real.

She doesn’t know that he’s only trying to get rid of her so his business deal won’t be hurt by her romance with David.

Then everything falls apart.  Linus can’t go through with it.  He can’t jilt her.  It breaks her heart (and his) when he tells her the truth – that it was all just a ploy to keep her away from David until the business deal was done.  She goes to Paris alone.

But Linus can’t bear to think of her alone in Paris.  So he goes to his brother, David, in a last ditch effort to make things right.  He tells David to blow off his engagement, to fly to Paris, to meet up with Sabrina, and to make her happy.

Linus : This whole thing was a business tactic, I let it get out of hand. Somehow I lost my focus. I screwed up everything. But I know it can be fixed. I manipulated her, I confused her. But she’s loved you all her life. You’re what she really wants. You’re what she’s always wanted. Go with her, it’s not too late. Things will work out. She’ll make you happy. I don’t want her to have to leave here alone.

David : What about Patrick and the merger? You’d blow a billion dollars for this?

…I see.

Linus : Get going. Go on. Don’t miss the plane.

David’s stunned.  He’s shocked that his brother could love a woman more than he could love money.  He orchestrates his own plan to complete the merger himself, without Linus, and to send Linus off to Paris to be with Sabrina.

This works, of course.  Linus meets her there, professes his love, and pleads with her to forgive him and love him back.

Linus: Paris is always a good idea, you said.  You said I’d be happy here.  You couldn’t have meant without you.

Sabrina: How did you know where to find me?

Linus: Your father.  I told him I need you.  I told him I’d make you happy.  I promised him.

Sabrina: I thought it was all a lie?

Linus: So did I.  But something happened.  It was a lie.  And then it was a dream.


Why do I love this movie?

I’ve been in the same church for twenty years, and I’ve seen the Christian version of Linus Larrabee my entire life.  I’ve been the Christian version of Linus Larrabee.

It’s not that I didn’t believe in God or church or total devotion.  I just thought that sort of thing was for other people.

I attended church.  I went to activities.  I wanted the church to grow.  I wanted people to be saved from Hell.  These were all noble goals – but they weren’t my goals.  I was too busy with other things.  I said I loved God.  I’m not sure that I actually did.

I would see the passion of other people, men and women who were clearly willing to sacrifice everything in their lives to serve God and advance the gospel, and I admired that passion.  I admired my dad.  I marveled at how he could be so careless about things that seemed so important to me, all in an effort to give every part of himself to the church.

I was even jealous of his passion from time to time.  But I thought I was incapable of it. In my mind, I wasn’t capable of loving God and His church the way that other people were.

I was wrong.  I was so wrong.

My life was a joke.  The passions I had weren’t real.  Slowly, like Linus in the movie, men like Alistair Begg and John Piper and Albert Mohler began to poke holes in my life.  Maybe I was capable of a devotion to God far beyond what I had ever expected.  This happened gradually, but once it began, I couldn’t shut it off.

And now that I am finally alive in Christ, it breaks my heart to see so many who are only flirting with God.  I wonder what their lives would be like if they could let go of the things that keep them from being “all-in”.  They seem almost like tragic figures to me, admiring the passion of others but not willing to be passionate themselves.

What could the church be like if we truly sought after God’s kingdom first?  What if we made everything else in life take a backseat to the pursuit of God’s kingdom?

What if we all are capable of loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths – but our own pursuits and passions have led us to believe that that kind of devotion belongs to other people?

It’s sad to see people not really accomplishing anything for God’s kingdom, never truly committing, never truly going 100%, always holding back, always tapping the brakes for fear they might get caught up in something that will jeopardize their other goals and agendas.  I don’t know what to make of it.

God has given us the keys to His kingdom, but we’d rather play sports or watch television or make money.  We’d rather let other people love God with all their hearts, so that we can get by with just loving Him enough to avoid Hell.

We’re not incapable of love.  We’re just too busy for it.