In the midst of lockdown, Britain went baking crazy, as pictures of fresh-from-the-oven sourdough and banana bread clogged up Instagram like hair down the sink. So with that in mind, there should be some affection for Love Sarah, a gentle tale of three grief-stricken women who find solace in the kitchen. When the film begins, the ‘Sarah’ of the title – who we never get to meet – dies in a cycling accident on the London streets.
Gradually, we are introduced to those whose lives she changes. There is her daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet), a dancer who, shortly after her mother’s death, splits from her unfeeling boyfriend; her estranged mother Mimi (Celia Imrie), a former trapeze artist in her heyday; and then her best friend and business partner Isabella (Shelley Conn), with whom she was planning to open a café close to London’s Portobello Road.
After crashing at her grandmother’s house, Clarissa convinces her to visit the yet-to-open café, already in difficulties and now without Sarah’s culinary touch. Somewhat guilt-ridden by her previously cold relationship with her daughter, Mimi decides to help bankroll the establishment – which they call ‘Love Sarah’. And the chef? That comes in the shape of the handsome Matthew (Rupert Penry-Jones), a former lover to Sarah.
Scripted by Jake Brunger and directed by Eliza Schroeder, making her feature debut after a series of shorts, Love Sarah is exactly what you might expect from the above summary. With its West London locations, there’s a touch of the Richard Curtis (on a budget) about the film, with much of the eye-candy coming in the shape of the delicious-looking confections that Matthew whips up in the kitchen (they were actually provided by provided Notting Hill’s famous Yotam Ottolenghi).
While the film will doubtless appeal to those already enamoured by The Great British Bake Off – and there are many of those – it’s rather middle-of-the-road feel may alienate viewers looking for a more hard-hitting experience. As lightweight as a puff-pastry, the film jigsaws together rather too easily, somewhat lacking real drama in its relationships, even if the characters are likeably played. But for those craving a gentle, undemanding romantic drama, this will more than satisfy those pangs of longing.
Love Sarah is available to stream from 10 July. For more details, click here.