Review: ‘Love Sarah’ is sweet, but underbaked

Grief is a powerful thing. Imagine that you’re waiting for your friend to show up on the first day you begin your new adventure as business partners. I imagine being a child who texts your mother good luck and then goes on about your day. Imagine being a mother, estranged from her daughter, and having to answer the door to a pair of police officers there to let you know that your daughter has been killed in an accident.

This is the setup of the three main characters in Love Sarah, the story of a daughter, a mother, and a friend who open a bakery and name it after the titular Sarah dies in the films opening moments.

The story picks up some time later as each of the three women is dealing with their loss, and as a way through decide to go ahead and open the bakery that Sarah would have been the chef at anyway. They name it after her, Love Sarah, and are joined by a lover from her past who just so happens to be a world-class pastry chef.

In this story, the big idea is that the way through grief –and life– is connecting with other people. Each of the characters lost something when Sarah died, and they each gain something back when they connect with each other. This isn’t exactly a new concept, but it is a sweet one.

On a more macro level, the bakery itself doesn’t take off until our heroines realized that almost literally every local in their neighbourhood isn’t local and start cooking up the treats and sweets that everyone is missing from their home countries. That connection with their neighbourhood is what brings them through.

The problem is that the film doesn’t really lean into these ideas enough. It isn’t a deep exploration of grief. Although it is literally exposited that the bakery is only one of the dozens in the same area until they start catering to their customers’ wants, that’s as far as it goes. There is no backlash or commentary, or even a single customer who turns up their nose. This is a film that is nearly devoid of conflict –except for within one of the romantic pairings, but that subplot plays out exactly as you’ve seen in dozens of other movies.

Super Penry-Jones / Love Sarah

Still, it is a sweet film, and everyone in it is doing exactly the job they signed up for. Celia Imrie is probably the standout, but it’s not exactly a crowded field. The one thing I can definitely tell you is not to watch the movie while you are hungry because there are some gorgeous pastries on display throughout as well as a few fun baking scenes.

Love Sarah’s heart is in the right place and is the kind of movie that is easy to forgive some of its faults, but ultimately it feels under-baked. It’s sort of fine as it is, and may even be comfort food for some, but a few more minutes in the proverbial oven and it might have been something special.

Love Sarah is available on demand in Canada today, January 15th.