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Review: ‘The View From Here’ is an affecting drama despite a half-baked restaurant subplot

Dorée Seay, front, and Kellen Garner in the flawed but affecting film "The View from Here."
(Indie Rights)

It turns out a flawed film can still be profoundly affecting if it hits you in the right place on the right day, as the romantic drama “The View From Here” proves.

Writer/director Kellen Garner stars as one half of the estranged couple at the center of this story. After two years apart, Mark (Garner) and Gillian (Dorée Seay) reunite at the funeral of Mark’s father, and try to reconcile the ugliness of their breakup and unresolved feelings in an attempt at closure. That’s a story nearly anyone can relate to, and the raw, unfiltered emotions Garner brings to their interactions cut deeply.

Seay is a wonderful and serious screen presence, and there’s a knowing ease in the onscreen connection between she and Garner.

But Garner has saddled “The View From Here” with a rather half-baked tortured chef subplot that never feels authentic. Mark is an up-and-coming chef opening a new restaurant in San Francisco, Gillian the rookie designer he takes a chance on when she boldly criticizes his menu. It seems as though it’s meant to be inspired by the kitchen dramatics of “Burnt” or “Kitchen Confidential,” but it lacks the blood, sweat and tears of a real restaurant kitchen. It’s all too sterile and stilted, distracting from the deeply emotional story of love and loss at its core.

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‘The View From Here’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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