A seemingly never-ending 142 days on from last being able to catch* a new release at the cinema** (my last being Pixar’s delightful Onward), the theatre-going experience is finally back!***
With the likes of Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 pushed back, and Mulan removed from the release schedule altogether, Love Sarah isn’t quite the blockbuster cinematic experience you’d expect to be drawing the crowds back to the big screen, but it just might be the warm hug of a movie that we all need after a trying few months in lockdown. If you were to picture a Sunday afternoon film with the family, it’d look a lot like Love Sarah. Director Eliza Schroeder weaves a heartwarming, borderline sickly-sweet tale in the vein of most every other British dramedy from the past twenty years, one which is bolstered by its solid cast. And what it lacks in ambition, it makes up for in earnestness.
It’s on the way to meet her best friend Isabella (Shelley Conn) at their soon-to-be-opening bakery that Sarah meets her fate, struck in a traffic collision while on her bicycle. She leaves behind her mother Mimi (the ever-reliable Celia Imrie) and daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet), both estranged after a family fallout and reconnected by their joint loss. At Clarissa’s behest, the pair put aside their differences and set about attempting to open Sarah’s dream Notting Hill bakery alongside Isabella, perhaps just healing their emotional wounds in the process (naturally).
Cue more macarons than you can shake a stick at, budding romance and very light parenthood drama (courtesy of Rupert Penry-Jones’s Matthew). And it’s light drama that is par for the course here; aside from the initial death of Sarah, the film seems intent on sidestepping any real tension for its characters, most confrontations and obstacles being overcome within a handful of scenes. As the bakery expands its culinary offerings to include more international treats befitting of London’s multicultural population, we get a throwaway line in which Isabella voices her concerns over the government trying to oust people from the country. But it feels like a token gesture, rather than the film truly having an interest in exploring themes of immigration and multiculturalism beyond the most basic of levels. And ultimately that’s not what it’s here to do. This is breezy, uncomplicated, sentimental and perfectly pleasant cinema, and quite frankly, we could all do with a bit of uplifting right now.
Rating (out of 5):
* Hopefully the only thing I’ve caught on my visit.
** I snuck in a viewing of The Goonies a couple of days prior to Love Sarah, in a blissfully empty screening room.
*** At least here in the UK, kind of, for the moment at least.