The near-encounter is a plot device I first spotted in the French film L’Auberge Espagnole but I had already seen elements of it in the romantic comedy Serendipity. The Edge of Heaven, the latest film by Gegen die Wand director Fatih Akın is constructed around this plot device.
The premise of the near-encounter is simple: Two people, who are supposed to meet according to the plot, cross each other without noticing. The audience is aware of the near-encounter, the fictional characters are not. An example from the film L’Auberge Espagnole: a protagonist is tying his shoelaces while another protagonist walks by. Due to the shoe lacing, the “shoe lacer” cannot see the other, and the other cannot see the “shoe lacer” because of his bended position.
The Edge of Heaven is highly recommended.