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The Darien Gap (1995)—also written by Lyn Vaus and director Brad Anderson—proved that talky slacker movies could be self-indulgent without being smarmy, and this low-key romantic comedy proves that destiny-powered love stories can be formulaic without being predictable. When her boyfriend leaves her with a Dear Jane videotape, Erin (Hope Davis), who became a nurse after dropping out of medical school, finds comfort and insight in phrases she chooses at random from a volume of poetry dedicated to her by her late father. Right away we know she?s supposed to meet Alan (Alan Gelfant), a plumber studying marine biology who volunteers at the Boston Aquarium. But the more frequently and ingeniously their paths almost cross, the less likely it seems they?ll ever find each other. With a wink and a nod to conspiracy thrillers and misogynistic comedies, Anderson and Vaus skewer—and reverently use—the conventions of corny, fate-based love stories in this melodically edited and gently surprising tale.

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