Review: Love Sarah

Year: 2020
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Director: Eliza Schroeder
Writer: Jake Brunger
Stars: Shelley Conn, Celia Imrie, Shannon Tarbet, Rupert Penry-Jones, Celia Imrie, Bill Paterson, Candice Brown

By Bianca Garner

Eliza Schroeder‘s “Love Sarah” is not a film I would usually be drawn to. Those who know me, are probably aware that I am not the ‘Light-hearted comedy’ type. However, “Love Sarah” was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise, a step outside my usual comfort zone and a film I didn’t really know how much I needed. In this time of uncertainty, division and separation, it was a real delight to see a community of different people from a range of backgrounds, ages and cultures coming together, united by the power of love, food and friendship. 

Yes, “Love Sarah” is familiar in terms of its story, themes and content, but there’s comfort in that familiarity. It’s the type of film that you can watch with your Grandmother, mother and sister and bond over. The type of film that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting that feeling.

The film starts out with an element of tragedy. Sarah (Candice Brown) along with her best friend Isabella (Shelley Conn) are planning on opening a bakery together, Sarah is the talent in the kitchen with Isabella handling the more financial side of the business. It’s opening day and Sarah is on her way there, the only thing is that she never makes it. She’s knocked off her bike, leaving behind her daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet), her mother Mimi (the delightful Celia Imrie) and Isabella, all of which process their grief and loss for Sarah in different ways. Things go downhill pretty fast. Isabella hasn’t the confidence to open the bakery without her friend, Clarissa struggles to follow her dancing career and Mimi shuts herself away completely.

Copyright: Parkland Entertainment

“Love Sarah” is familiar in terms of its story, themes and content, but there’s comfort in that familiarity.”

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Clarissa goes to live with Mimi and manages to convince both her and Isabella to finish the bakery in Sarah’s memory. There’s only one catch, they don’t have a baker. In walks Matthew (Rupert Penry-Jones), who may or may not be Clarissa’s father. Midway through the film, the bakery (now called ‘Love Sarah’) opens, but the real challenge is how to build on their reputation and how to attract new customers. So, begins a wonderful journey of recreating baked goods from all across the globe, a way of recreating home for the diverse inhabitants of London.

What’s so delightful about “Love Sarah” is it’s focus on telling the evolving friendship between three female characters ranging in different ages and belonging to different generations. It seems rare nowadays that we see such a depiction on the big-screen. There’s something so refreshingly empowering about seeing three very complex, strong and well-developed female characters coming together to create something positive in the world. The fact that they are from different generations add complexity and humour to what could have been a very sombre, serious film.

Copyright: Parkland Entertainment

Celia Imrie is just wonderful as the no-nonsense Mimi, who tells it just like it is. Shelley Conn’s Isabella is the one trying to hold it all together by internalising her grief and Conn delivers a great performance. And, Shannon Tarbet’s Clarissa is quirky, fun and full of energy, and her scenes with Imrie are the funniest in the film. Each actress really brings something unique to their performance and the film is at its strongest when we simply focus on their interactions with each other.

“Love Sarah” is adorably sweet and well-intentioned, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The supporting cast are good too. Rupert Penry-Jones’ Matthew is your typical bad boy with a good heart underneath that tough guy exterior, although his character feels like an unnecessary addition. And, it’s always good to see Fleababg’s Bill Paterson make an appearance, as an eccentric inventor who falls for Mimi. 

Copyright: Parkland Entertainment

Where the film falters slightly is the script by Jake Brunger, sometimes the jokes don’t always land feeling a little too forced, and the dramatic moments seem to be overshadowed by the more comedic aspects. It all feels too nicely resolved at the end, but there is comfort in the ending, the idea that life can go on after the loss of a loved one. Still, the baking scenes alone are a true feast for the eyes (word of warning, do not watch this film on an empty stomach) and the overall charm of the film will sweep you off your feet. “Love Sarah” is adorably sweet and well-intentioned, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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