Reviewed by Rama Gaind.
Director: Eliza Schroeder, Rialto Entertainment.
Cast: Celia Imrie, Shannon Tarbet, Shelley Conn, Rupert Penry-Jones, Bill Paterson.
Baking is more than just the ‘chemistry between the ingredients and the cook that gives desserts life’. It’s a labour of love. In fact, the passion for baking – not to mention the temptations for those with a sweet tooth – is tangible in Love Sarah.
It tells the story of three generations of women brought together following the death of Sarah Curachi, an acclaimed baker on the cusp of fame, who is tragically killed in a cycling accident on the eve of receiving the keys to her first solo bakery.
Her 18-year-old daughter, Clarissa (Tarbet, Killing Eve), is an aspiring dancer and estranged from her grandmother Mimi, (Imrie, Calendar Girls, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Sarah’s mother.
Meanwhile Isabella (Conn, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) Sarah’s business partner struggles to pay the rent on an empty space where the bakery was to be opened in Notting Hill.
Clarissa turns to Mimi, who after initial hesitancy, agrees to fund the opening of the bakery. However, when Sarah’s ex-boyfriend Matthew (Penry-Jones, Spooks, Silk), a Michelin-starred star chef turns up, Mimi insists – against Isabella’s advice – that he take the helm: it’s the only sure-fire way to ensure success.
With multi-layered story-telling, it reflects Schroeder’s pride in the subject choices. First, it reveals a culturally diverse London in its glory. It’s the multicultural connection that makes the bakery a success, setting out to make it a home away from home, making ‘everyone’s favourites from around the world in 80 bakes’.
It’s about grief and regret and it also treats death in a “dignified way not making it dark and constraining”. There’s hope and life. The film also touches on our fixations with ambition and triumph. A feel-good, rags-to-riches story, the film is life affirming, celebratory and told with a lightness of touch.
As one of the first major theatrical releases to mark the re-opening of Australian cinemas after the COVID-19 lockdown, Love Sarah opened nationally on approximately 180 screens last Thursday.