Baking changes lives for the better in the sweet-natured ‘Love Sarah’

Cast with cakes: A group of friends struggle to save a bakery in the British family film ‘Love Sarah’.

LOVE SARAH *** (98 minutes) M
The tragic, poorly timed death of her business partner Sarah (Candice Brown) leaves Isabella (Shelley Conn) in a double bind.

She’s got to deal both with the despair of her loss and the financial crisis now engulfing the little neighbourhood bakery she and Sarah were on the verge of opening.

Looks like her world is about to fall apart, and normally it would. But that, of course, is strictly verboten in the warm world of sweet-natured, uplifting little family films like this.

Instead, Sarah’s daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet) and mother Mimi (Celia Imrie) team up to support Isabella and bring her modest dream to life. You know, in tribute to Sarah’s spirit, which seems to be hanging around the place.

Enter Matthew (Rupert Penry-Jones), a red-hot chef and Sarah’s handsome ex. He’s the much-needed baker who’ll help the joint swing in their over-serviced London location.

All the ingredients are there for an undemanding, unpretentious little charmer about family, community bonding and latter life romance as Mimi is courted by an elderly security expert (Bill Paterson).

First-time director Eliza Schroeder stirs well, keeping things on simmer as Clarissa strives to make the bakery a viable concern. Bubbling alongside are some neatly etched dramatic B-stories involving the strained relationship between Clarissa, who is broke, and grandma Mimi, who is rich. There’s also the possibility Matthew might be Clarissa’s father.

Without erring into virtue signalling, the film has a nourishing undercurrent about cultural inclusion by having the bakery tap into the mutli-cultural character of its locale to sell more cakes and so upshift its business model. Nice fusion there of social awareness and capitalism.

If you’re after fiery dramatic conflict, Love Sarah isn’t the shop for you. However, if you’re in the mood for a wispy, gently life-affirming piece of romantic escapism it’s just the ticket.

The film is thoroughly predictable, thoroughly pleasant, easily digestible, as enjoyable as a strawberry souffle and just as light.