Film Review – Love Sarah (2020)

films, reviews

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I love Yotam Ottolenghi. I am obsessed with his cookbooks even though I’ve only ever made a few recipes. That’s mostly because the ingredients always include something random that isn’t a cupboard staple. It’s also because they tend to be about 2 pages of instructions and who has the time? One day, I will go through them and make every single one. Or at least any without mushrooms, olives or any other foodstuff that I can’t stand. But for now, I can just dream of a time when I’m drawing in my own versions of his recipes. I’ve also never been to his place in London but I’ve walked past it and lusted over the cakes in the window. The same cakes that have a starring role in this film. I wanted to check it out as soon as I knew about the Ottolenghi connection but I didn’t exactly have high expectations.

The premise of Love Sarah is pretty simple. A woman called Sarah is about to open her dream bakery with her best friend. On the opening day, she is killed in a traffic accident. Unable to sell the property, her friend eventually decides to open the bakery in her honour. She is assisted by Sarah’s daughter, estranged mother and culinary school fling. It’s a bit weird really but I can go with it. The group find out that it’s actually pretty difficult to open a bakery in the middle of London. Considering just how many cafes, coffee shops and bakeries exist in the city, it’s hardly surprising. Turns out, it takes more than just pretty cakes to make a profit, so they must find a different way to make a name for themselves. So, they decide to start selling the kind of baked goods that nobody else makes. Will it be enough to help them stay open or will Sarah’s dream get ruined?

As I said, I had low expectations for this film but it turned out to be worse than I thought. The story had the potential to be quite cute but the way the narrative plays out is just awkward. It feels like a lot of it has been cut. I mean the ending just isn’t an ending. I’m not the kind of person who needs closure and I love stories that leave things open. This film didn’t do that. It just sort of gave up. I don’t even think any of the storylines are tied up. I wonder if the writer just didn’t know how to resolve anything and just stopped writing? Hoping to sell it as an arty twist? Whatever the reason, there is something distinctly awkward about this film and the editing really doesn’t help. It doesn’t have confidence in itself so why should the audience?

It also doesn’t have confidence in its characters. The actors are doing the best they can but the characters are all so underdeveloped. They are even just stock characters. They’re stock characters that have had some depth taken away from them. They’re not vanilla. They’re bland. One of the only reasons that I might have had any faith in this film was because of Celia Imrie. I think she’s fab but she was floundering as Sarah’s mum, Mimi. She had a bit of a backstory but not enough. She was sad but inconsistently. She had the most awkward romance ever and was never given the chance to create tension. She just saw a man and seemed to decide that was that.

Any heartfelt emotions that could have been wrought from this story are destroyed by the general awkwardness of it all. The way that Ottolenghi is mentioned is awkward. The way the characters interact is awkward. The way everyone’s relationship with each other is established is awkward. It’s also unrealistic. Nothing about the way that London is presented here feels real. Nothing about a group of people pending a business feels real. Isabella, Sarah’s friend and co-owner, was always going to be involved in this bakery but doesn’t seem to have a clue. They all sit around moaning about having no customers but never do anything about it. It takes over an hour before anyone even mentions social media. I know I work in marketing, so maybe this only annoys me but what kind of business plan did they have? Were Sarah and Isabella going to be running this kind of operation to?

Love Sarah was such a pointless film. It hopes that it can survive on the visuals alone and there are plenty of shots of cakes to please some people. However, it’s not enough. I don’t understand how or why this was made the way that it was. It certainly had potential but it didn’t do anything with it. Somewhere along the way it just loses all substance. I can’t believe I bothered watching it.

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