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A Voyage to Self-Discovery Via Thoughtful 'Darien Gap'


Brad Anderson's accomplished "The Darien Gap" is one of the strongest offerings in the Grande 4-Plex's ongoing American Independent Feature series, notable for its bemused detachment, visual grace and sure sense of pace. It's strong enough to deserve a Westside booking.

Lyn Vaus stars most effectively as Lyn, a tall, shaggy twentysomething Boston layabout with a wry command of the language and a vague notion of making a documentary on his Generation X.

Lyn hangs out a lot, makes only the most feeble attempts to land a job and shows up regularly at the city's most au courant scenes, where he meets Polly Joy (Sandi Carroll, a vibrant actress), an attractive, vivacious and successful fashion designer with a nifty Beacon Hill apartment she eventually invites him to share.

Since Lyn is homeless, the prospect of romance combined with a place to stay is most attractive to him, yet this new development in his life ultimately spurs his process of self-discovery rather than derailing it. Despite their mutual attraction and intelligence, they are radically different; Polly is as focused and productive as Lyn is not.

As childhood memories, via Anderson's own family's home movies, wash over him fairly regularly, Lyn gets it in his mind that he wants to hitch down the Pan-American Highway to Patagonia to try to see its mythical giant sloths. (He must see himself in them.) There's only one hitch: that impassable 80-mile-long Panamanian swamp called the Darien Gap. Yet the loonier his dream seems to his friends, the more determined the penniless Lyn becomes to pursue it.

Being caught up in his dream causes him to ponder his traumatic experience with his father, a failed actor who always solved every problem by running off with his family on expensive vacations paid by his wealthy wife. The day would come, while Lyn was still a child, when his father would leave by himself and never return.

As Anderson reveals the toll that can be exacted upon children of divorce, Lyn in turn begins to become aware, like it or not, of how much like his father he really is. There's a lot of humor in "The Darien Gap," which has a great score featuring underground Boston bands, but even more wisdom and reflection.

* Unrated. Times guidelines: The film has some strong language, some lovemaking.


'The Darien Gap'

Lyn Vaus: Lyn

Sandi Carroll: Polly Joy

A Northern Arts Entertainment release of a Nomad Films production. Writer-producer-director-editor Brad Anderson. Cinematographer Peter Krieger. Music Gareth Kear. Set decorators Warren Curtis, Deloris Gavin. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

* Exclusively at the Grande 4-Plex through Thursday, 345 S. Figueroa St. (213) 617-0268.

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