Love Sarah – Glasgow Film Festival 2020 – Film Review

Love Sarah has Ottolenghi cakes, Notting Hill and Rupert Penry-Jones as its perfect ingredients, what more could you want from a film? Truly a love letter to London, or Notting Hill at the very least, Love Sarah is an effervescent, feel-good film with a sprinkling of sugar at the top.

Starring Celia Imrie, Love Sarah tells the tale of three generations of disparate women who must work together following a life changing event. The trials and tribulations of the trio are explored, where the set-up of a bakery is concerned, as each woman has a different approach to business. Love Sarah is truly an exploration of womanhood which will also make you fall in love with cakes.

Celia Imrie, Shelley Conn and Shannon Tarbet in Love Sarah
Celia Imrie, Shelley Conn and Shannon Tarbet in Love Sarah

As a comedy, the film still finds a way to navigate the women through loss which is ultimately the driving force for the women and the project. Love Sarah does allow the breathing space for its characters to contend with such tragedy with an empathetic approach, with voiceovers and the use of intercuts to convey the sadness encountered by the respective women.

Impressively, Love Sarah is the first feature length film for director Eliza Schroeder and has its World Premiere within the Glasgow Film Festival 2020; within the introduction to the screening, Schroeder had indicated that Love Sarah is inspired by her mother as she had unfortunately lost her mother whilst developing the script. As such, there is a very strong theme of mother-daughter relationships and female friendships as an undercurrent through Love Sarah. Sarah is the common denominator for the three women and therefore serves as that inspiration throughout the challenges faced.

Indeed, there are some challenges encountered despite Love Sarah being a very light, easily digestible film. At the outset of launching the bakery, the women are told that there is a plethora of similar bakeries in the area, Notting Hill, and are asked what makes them unique. All that was needed at that moment was to observe the scrumptious looking cakes in order to answer that question! The cakes are filmed at very beautiful angles to highlight just how tempting they may be!

The entirety of Love Sarah is filmed with a very positive, colour infused palette which adds to that feel-good sensation. It was Clarissa’s, played by Shannon Tarbet, hopefulness that resulted in the continuance of the dream to open a bakery on Golborne Road, rather than allowing the premises to be sold to become another wine bar, which may be a social realism comment on the decline of businesses within the British High Streets and the loss of communities.

Clarissa is an aspiring dancer and injects Love Sarah with some elegant, rhythmic, mesmerising dance routines prior to opening the bakery and it is an activity that she must find the strength to return to following the grief. The role is thoughtfully played by Tarbet as the antithesis to both her grandmother Mimi and her mother’s best friend and business partner, Isabella.

Shelley Conn as Isabella in Love Sarah
Shelley Conn as Isabella in Love Sarah

Rupert Penry-Jones enters as an object of desire, his character Matthew is described as a ‘womaniser’, but he is also a Michelin starred chef. His unexpected arrival is suspicious but welcomed. At such moments in Love Sarah, the tone of the film changes tack as Matthew joins the bakery. There are some lingering, mouth-watering scenes of the preparation of cakes by Matthew reminiscent of The Cakemaker, the sifting of flour from a height in slow-motion certainly looked extremely sensual.

The cakes produced are also filmed at the eye level of the bakery’s counter with a bright light shone upon them emphasising the stylish creations. Love Sarah, within those scenes, is effectively an extended episode of the Great British Bake Off and indeed one of the former winners from the TV programme, Candice Brown, appears in the film. Penry-Jones however does not seem to be very stretched as Matthew but it is good to view him in a comic role.

Isabella, played by Shelley Conn provides the voice of reason as a counter to some of Mimi’s outlandish projects and delivers some very sharp, witty one-liners, including one about the government’s approach to immigration and telling Matthew that they are no longer ‘teenagers’ when offered a round of shots. She is convincingly played by Conn and is a delight to watch.

However, it is Celia Imrie’s character, Mimi, who truly carries Love Sarah and there are some amusing scenes of her interactions with others of her own generation and a potential love interest. Mimi, is also the proud user of a chequebook, does anyone still possess a chequebook these days? Whenever there are any financial complications for the business, out comes the chequebook! The camera angles at such moments simply linger on her hands signing a cheque which seems to add a luxurious flourish.

Celia Imrie as Mimi in Love Sarah
Celia Imrie as Mimi in Love Sarah

Not since Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts, has there been a film with this part of West London as a central, admired, character. There are close ups of the market stalls on Portobello Road, long angle shots on Golborne Road and the antique shops on Portobello Road. Indeed, the renowned pastel coloured terraces of Notting Hill also feature and will certainly entice you to visit Notting Hill soon. Equally, there are some stunning panoramic shots of the Thames from the bridges making life in London look very appealing.

Notting Hill’s market and the annual carnival are renowned examples where multi-culturalism can be observed. Love Sarah touches upon this as Mimi references that people in that part of London are from a variety of countries which inspires a new wave of cakes to be baked. The camera pans over different cakes such as Tennessee Bourbon Pecan Pie and Persian Love Cakes and so it is certainly advisable not to watch Love Sarah on an empty stomach!

Love Sarah is a charming, feel-good film full of hope despite the adversities presented. It is very moving and the type of film that would be ideal to watch as a belated Mother’s Day outing. Love Sarah is perfectly suited to a springtime release with the positivity that it exudes.

The trailer for Love Sarah can be viewed here.

The main cast of Love Sarah
The main cast of Love Sarah

Love Sarah will be released in UK cinemas on 24 April 2020

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