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Love Sarah

★★★½ STUFF 

- It was supposed to be a day of celebration. The morning when Sarah (Candice Brown) and her best friend Isabella (Shelley Conn) finally achieved their goal of opening a bakery together.

But although the latter just thought her more creative friend was running a little late, it turned out she wasn’t coming at all.

A cycling tragedy not only robbed Sarah and Isabella of their dream, it destabilised Sarah’s dancing daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet) and prevented mother Mimi (Celia Imrie) from one last attempt to reconcile with her free-spirited progeny.

As Isabella contemplates trying to save her investment by selling the space to a pop-up wine bar, a now homeless Clarissa pleads with her not to give up. All they need is to persuade Mimi to add her financial backing and to find a suitable chef who would fill Sarah’s shoes. Neither will be an easy task.

Director Eliza Schroeder and screenwriter Jake Brunger’s feature debut is a charming, yet predictable tale of estrangement, ethnic diversity and tempting edible treats. Yes, there’s plenty of food porn on offer, as the bakery staff (so make sure you either have snacks, or have eaten before watching) whip up mouthwatering treats such as giant rose macarons and golden coffee bean eclairs. However, the drama on offer is a little less filling, or satisfying.

An attempt at Delicious-level entanglements never really comes to fruition, leaving most of the tension hinging on whether anyone will actually cross their threshold and fill their coffers (something that may feel a little too real at the moment). Meanwhile, sub-plots involving the bakery’s security expert neighbour (Bill Patterson) and finding their niche in making items to appeal to London’s multi-cultural inhabitants feel both underbaked and borrowed from the much-maligned festive rom-com Last Christmas (while the opening scene’s well composed crash/dance juxtaposition is very reminiscent of the one key to 2001’s Save the Last Dance).

Still, the movie benefits from a charismatic central trio, with Imrie’s (The Best Exotic Marigold HotelFinding Your Feet) class, in particular, shining through.

Love Sarah is by no means perfect, but it is perfect viewing for those in need of the cinematic equivalent of a mood-enhancing sugar-rush.

- James Croot, STUFF

Love Sarah is now playing at Light House Cinema!

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