Love Sarah is a saccharine story of three generations of women coming together, after the titular Sarah (The Great British Baking Show’s Candice Brown) passes away. Sarah had been just about to open a bakery with her lifelong best friend Isabella (Shelley Conn) when she gets into a terrible accident that costs her her life. In the aftermath of the accident, Sarah’s daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet) who’s life is all but falling apart, pushes for Isabella to move forward with plans to open the bakery.
Clarissa enlists the help of her grandmother Mimi (Celia Imrie), who she hadn’t seen for years. There’s also clearly some bad blood between Mimi and Isabella, and getting the three women to work together won’t be an easy task. Mimi and Isabella are both strong personalities, and we’re supposed to think that if it weren’t for Clarissa pushing them together, the two of them would have nothing to do with each other. However, the conflict between them really is very tepid; while it is eventually explained, it lacks drama that would have given the film a little more tenacity. We’re never given an explanation for why or how Clarissa and her grandmother Mimi became estranged.
Love Sarah is filled with cute montages – the first, a montage of the three women decorating the bakery cut between them interviewing potential candidates for a baker (which they desperately need to get anything going). This enjoyable montage is cut short by the introduction of Matthew (Rupert Penry-Jones) who adds a bit of conflict to the mix. He too, seems to have some unpleasant history with Isabella, and he may or may not be Clarissa’s father.
From the beginning of the film, it’s not entirely clear how Love Sarah will become a romantic comedy, but once Matthew is introduced, that question is answered. There’s also a love interest for Mimi in Felix (Bill Paterson). Quirky Felix and Mimi provide the most comic relief of the film, and the two of them have great chemistry together. Mimi and Felix are absolutely the most interesting characters in Love Sarah. Matthew is uninteresting and flat – though it’s no fault of Rupert Penry-Jones. Similarly, we never really get to know Isabella and Clarissa.
I’m not a big viewer of romantic comedies, so I’m not entirely sure how the formula usually plays out, but everything about Love Sarah feels familiar in a comforting way. It takes place in the ever-charming Notting Hill – I’ve never been to London, so I have no idea what Notting Hill is actually like, but it seems to make the perfect setting for films like this (see Richard Curtis films). The three women take inspiration from the multi-cultural setting of London, and decide that in order to add something new to the neighborhood (which is filled with bakeries), they’ll be trying to make pastries from all around the world.
Love Sarah is a film about coming together to achieve something, and honoring someone’s memory, but it’s also about baking. There is a lot of baking in Love Sarah, and it’s fun to watch. I’d recommend watching it with some nice baked goods on hand, because everything in the film looks absolutely delicious (minus a few learning curves Isabella and Matthew go through together in trying to make a Japanese matcha mille crepe cake).
Like with many movies, you’ve got to suspend your disbelief a bit for Love Sarah to work. Starting a business is hard work; baking is also hard work. There’s no bakery cases in their bakery, which strikes me as odd, and while the trio do go through some ups and downs in getting their bakery off the ground, it all works out so, so smoothly. While their business plan is questionable, if you don’t think too much about this, it can still be an enjoyable watch.
While Love Sarah is predictable at just about every turn, that can be forgiven. It’s sweet, wholesome, and comforting. Although I do wish we’d gotten to know our main characters better, I’d still recommend watching this movie curled up with a cup of tea and some pastries.
Love Sarah comes releases theatrically and on VOD January 15
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