A Simple Twist of Fate (1994) Poster

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I simply adore this movie
CoffeeGoddess18 November 2006
This film is so understated and underrated as to be in danger of completely disappearing from the radar screen. For Steve Martin to be in a non-Jerk type roll makes seeing this movie next to impossible for a great number of people. No, he's not acting weird. No, he doesn't have an arrow on his head. No, he isn't going for the laugh. This is Mr. Martin at his acting best. If you were impressed by his recent turn in 'Shopgirl' the do yourself a favor and go out of your way to find a copy of this movie. Are there times when humor finds its way into this movie? Oh yeah but for the most part there is nothing but good solid storytelling with excellent casting and an excellent script. See this movie if you want to see a wonderful character study acted out by a superb cast.
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Outstanding adaptation of a great novel
mrmultimedia14 March 2002
I had never even heard of this movie until a couple of years ago. This is yet another stellar movie from the tremendous class of 1994.

I was absolutely enthralled by this story, so I went and read the novel it was derived from, Silas Marner by George Eliot. It was a really good story as well, but Martin's adaptation was outstanding. He managed to modernize the story so it could be more meaningful to new audiences, and yet still preserved the heart and soul of the story. While the original story was good, the novel was difficult to read not just because of the time difference (it was written in 1861) but also because of Eliot's overly descriptive language, making a wonderful story fairly unapproachable to most people.

For me, the most successful adaptations must start with a great story, then keep the best parts and lose the worst parts, while understanding and compensating for the differences between the mediums. Martin's screenplay excels at this, even surpassing Darabont's outstanding adaptation for The Shawshank Redemption.

The acting in the movie was very good as well. There's just something about a gifted comedian playing a dramatic role. Kind of like the image of a clown crying, when someone you normally associate with happiness and laughter convinces you that they're sad, there's a finer point to it, it has more impact. (Think of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, Awakenings and more recently, Good Will Hunting). Steve Martin was convincing and provided a character that you could empathize with. Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney were very good as they always are. The girls that played Mathilda were just right-extremely adorable and convincing, yet not so cute that you couldn't take it.

This is one of my favorite movies and I highly recommend anyone who hasn't seen it give it a try.
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The funny thing is
gavintabineruk15 February 2003
It was only by a simple twist of fate that i saw this film, that twist being that there was nothing else worth watching on tv last night, and so i tuned in and watched this film, and really enjoyed it. Like so many people have commented, it is a nice change to see S M doing drama, i found that he added some very comical moments to the film (the weather ballon scene). This is a touching story that makes you happy. aaaawwwwwwwwww, sniff***sniff****
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Steve Martin doing drama? Yes!
callie-516 March 1999
Steve Martin is, and will always be, a comedian first and foremost. But everyone needs to do something different in their life and he does it well! Mr. Martin took the story of Silas Mariner and has updated it to a wonderful story. It's not a comedy movie because it's not a comedic book that it came from. I think that Mr. Martin has kept the feelings of loss and rebirth (for lack of a better phrasing) vibrantly alive in this adaptation. Steve Martin CAN do drama and he does it so well. The story and characters are rich. You are drawn in to the despair of the main character, feeling for him, but still wanting to kick him in the pants and tell him to get on with, not just life, but living. And when the opportunity to do so presents itself to him. It is a joy to watch him become human again. I could go on forever, but I'm only allowed 1,000 words. Not enough for this movie, so see for yourself what it is that makes Steve Martin not just a versatile actor, but a GOOD actor.
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I enjoyed viewing this movie.
michelle_johnson_7618022 October 2000
I feel that Steve Martin acted well in this movie as well as adapting it. I've heard people comment that Martin was not made for this role, however I've seen him do worse in his natural genre, i.e. The Man With Two Brains.

Watching the movie prompted me to read the book and it did not ruin the book. Maybe because the two stories are set in different era's, but I choose to believe that it is because Martin adapted the book nicely for the movie and that George Eliot wrote a good book. Viva la Steve!
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A Good Adaptation of "Silas Marner"
GoldenOldie28 October 2003
I missed the first two or three minutes that would have included the credits and so did not realize that I would be watching George Eliot's moving novel. Although the movie was thoroughly modernized it took very little time for me to realize what I was watching. -- Much to my surprise and delight. I felt that George Eliot would have loved this movie. I give it a strong recommendation if you have read "Silas Marner". Those who have not, though, may find it contrived.
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A misunderstood classic
yoda8796022 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Note: This doesn't really contain spoilers, but hey, one slip of the mouse could blacklist me.

I just finished watching the outstanding Shopgirl and I couldn't help but think of this film. I've probably seen it around ten times. Only two or three times at home, but in high school I swear teachers showed it once or twice a year to kill some time. It didn't matter if we were reading Silas Marner or not. It has never gotten old.

People seem to go into this movie expecting a comedy, but it's really not. It's a haunting and beautiful movie filled with imagery that I can still see in my head, even though I haven't seen the movie in a couple of years. I assume when this came out, it was largely ignored because it had the look and conventions of other lesser movies of the time. Besides, who would want to see a drama from Steve Martin? Now that it's years removed from the climate it was released, it can truly be appreciated for what it is. A true gem.
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Another Great Steve Martin Film
Bronco4628 December 2003
Steve Martin wrote, directed and starred in this film. And he did a great job! A heartwarming film about an adopted child, her adopted father, and some very unhappy rich people. Thank you very much Mr Martin
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A Wonderful Touching Movie
Lysa_and_Rick10 July 2001
This movie is one of the best that Steve Martin has done. The only people who wouldn't like this movie would have to be fans of Martin from The Jerk and The Man With Two Brains, neither of which movie I enjoy in the slightest. Thank the heavens that Mr. Martin broke out of his stereotype, and showed us he can REALLY act. Coming a long way from his thankfully bygone days as the Jerk, Martin shows us his tender side, in a touching portrayal of a bitter hermit saved by the love of an orphan child. While it was not the laugh a minute comedy I was mislead to expect by the promotions for this movie, I still enjoyed every moment of it. Warm, sad, happy, and wistfully funny, it's a movie that can be watched many times and not lose its magic. And the Austin sisters who portray Mathilda at 5 and 11 are absolutely wonderful, and are a perfect fit with Martin.
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Watchable modern Silas Marner sentimentality
Elswet28 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Sweet, Sentimental, Modernized Journey Through Silas Marner.

This is about the best Steve Martin movie I've seen. That, for me, is saying a lot, since I love all his movies.

Steve Martin plays a divorced hermetic carpenter who discovers a motherless baby on his doorstep and adopts her.

The conflict comes when her millionaire father, denied a lawful child by his legal wife, seeks to take possession of the child he sired by a drug-hazed prostitute; Martin's little girl.

Very good drama, with classic Martin style, and without smarm.

Excellent movie.

It rates an 8.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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A career best for Steve Martin!
yossarian10024 January 2004
A touching and sensitive retelling of Silas Marner, A Simple Twist of Fate provides Steve Martin with the role of a lifetime. His characterization is nothing short of stunning. This finely crafted and superbly written film is backed up by strong supporting performances and masterful direction. The girls who played Mathilda were perfectly cast and absolutely stole my heart. I rank A Simple Twist of Fate right up there with Jimmy Stewart's It's a Wonderful Life and it's one of the sweetest movies I've ever seen!
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A Steve Martin masterpiece!
pete_wood-945-71527911 March 2014
I managed a movie theatre when this movie came out. It only lasted a couple of weeks due to poor marketing, but the customers leaving the auditorium after the movie all had tears in their eyes. It's not a depressing movie; just so emotional you can't help but get drawn into it. Steve Martin adapted the George Elliot novel about Silas Marner to modern day in a brilliant way, and it's such a shame so few people saw this.

This is my favorite movie, tied with "The Sixth Sense." It incorporates all of the elements needed for an engrossing story. If you have not seen it, please check it out. Steve Martin is usually associated with comedy, but this movie is a wonderful and touching drama with some comedy sprinkled in. It is intellectual, moving and draws you into the story like the best movies of all time. Please watch it.
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Excellent family law movie
AnthmWright25 December 2007
When facing losing your child in the court system, a parent suffers a roller-coaster of emotions.

Here, two wannabe fathers are fighting for their parental rights to a daughter.

One father had been highly regarded in the community and had unbounded political ambitions.

The other father was a town drunk and miser who lived on the land of the other father.

The movie is suspenseful at times, dark at times, light at times, and has a great ending.
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Sweet, sad, not bad
CatClaw31 October 2000
This film is a little bittersweet, but I found it to be surprisingly good. There were some stilted scenes, but on the whole I thought it was a good movie.

Steve Martin is a fine drama actor, and I found his portrayal of McCann to be excellent. The girls they got to play Mathilda were just fantastic. The extra touches to the storyline, and the "twist" of fate that binds the story together, really make this story shine. It's not your typical Steve Martin story (he wrote the script), but it's not a bad one, either.

The directing is good, too. There are some really well-directed scenes -- the coins, the auto accident, the weather balloon. It really ties the movie together.

I'd watch it again, and I'd recommend it to friends. Not perfect, but not bad.
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I never knew a movie can make you cry
doch-19 July 2002
i myself am a more action/horror lover but in the court fight in this film i really cried. i never knew a film can do this to you and i recommend it to every man women and child.
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One of Steve Martins better films
gerwhite4 December 2001
This film show just how versitial an actor Steve is. It's very difficult to have people take you as a serious actor when you've been known as a comedian. The one other person I can Think of that has made this transition is Whoopi Goldburg. But I ran across this film late one night and was very pleased with Steve's performance. I throughly enjoyed the film.
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Great version of 'Silas Marner'
Rose-3517 October 2000
This has to be one of the sweetest movies ever made. I thought Steve Martin was great in this. He's a good comedian but he proves he can handle drama very well. I think it was very well made and bring tears to my eyes every time I watch it. It's a great modern version of the classic 'Silas Marner' by George Eliot (whom by the way was a woman!). Overall, I give it an 8/10.
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Custody Battle With Steve Martin-Simple Twist of Fate ***
edwagreen4 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Something very different for Steve Martin as he portrays a man who divorced his wife when he found out that the child they expected was not his.

Enter another child in his life when a young woman dies on her way to the baby girl's wealthy political father. The father, who knew this was his child when he saw the dead woman, made no effort to claim the child as his. Instead, the child stays with Martin who loves her dearly and takes care of her in a manner of a true parent.

10 years later, the real father, Gabriel Byrne and his wife, Laura Linney, are childless and when Martin brings the child along with him to deliver furniture, Byrne confesses to all that he is the father of the child and a custody battle ensues.

These custody battles are very cliché in movies. Of course, everyone is wooed by the child's kind words for Martin. The ending is unexpected, but a good one. Everyone gets what they deserve.
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The Real Silas Marner
mulierose17 August 2007
As we all know, the real book, "Silas Marner" was first published in 1861 by "George Eliot". Well, in the time the book was published, women weren't "supposed" to write books like this. George Eliot's real name is Mary Ann Evans 1819-1880. Her understanding of the "Human condition" and the effects of loneliness on a person are greatly adapted into the book. If you read the novel, even though the wording of the book is different than modern English, well... that's part of the charm of the book. It takes you into a time when that's how they spoke. When considering the era of the book, and once again the adaptation of the movie "A Simple Twist of Fate", I believe that Steve Martin did an excellent job. Although... there's no substitution for the original work.
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Overall a good movie, but has a bit of a slow beginning
pplourde4 July 2000
Loosely based on 'Silas Marner', "A Simple Twist of Fate" is a very heartwarming movie with a happy ending. Despite a slow beginning, it ends up with a slightly less predictable ending: a simple twist of fate. Steve Martin and Gabriel Byrne both give a very good performance, as does the young Alana Austin.
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Steve Martin shows true depth as an actor in this film!
joeo-324 June 2000
Hello, This is a favorite film of mine, because Steve Martin plays the lead role with both deep sincerity and passion. I have seen him in many comedic roles, and yes he makes me laugh at the time. However, I have enjoyed him just as much playing a sad miser with a heart of gold. Everyone must see this movie for his acting alone. It really makes me think twice about Steve Martin as an actor.
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This one's a sleeper
dragon_grl_196 October 2006
This movie is what I like to call a sleeper. The cable descriptions are usually terrible and uninteresting but this a wonderful heartwarming movie about love and family. When I played it for my sister one day she argued that she didn't want to watch it but after it was over she fell in love with the sometimes sad, often times humorous story of a man with nothing left to lose and the baby that saves him! Steve Martin flexes his acting talent showing that he isn't always funny/stupid. And the young actress playing Mathilda at age 10 is amazing and really reminds me of Amy Smart. Even though this movie is a little bit older it still applies to life today and it is highly recommended by me!
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A wonderful well-written and well-acted film
BRBTVcom20 February 2006
I have always enjoyed Steve Martin. It doesn't matter what he's in; I just admire his talent and I've been downright crazy about his humor since I first saw him do that "King Tut" thing back in the 1970s. Here, he tackles a more dramatic role with so much warmth and sincerity, and he even manages to inject some comic moments in his typical style.

To know that he also wrote this screenplay is not surprising, as he's a gifted writer, as well. The story in this film is tremendously life-affirming. If nothing else, it illustrates how even the most serious or threatening situation can turn around, just like that, in the blink of an eye. As with M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs," Christians might be thinking of Romans 8:28 when they see this film -- how events, good or bad, are so often intricately orchestrated to a better end that we really can't see coming.

My favorite point in the film is when Steve Martin's character, having just been robbed of the fortune he's amassed in gold coins (he stored his cash in these coins rather than in a bank), sees this sweet toddler girl wandering aimlessly into his home as an event that was simply meant to be, as the "gift" he is given because his money has been taken away. His faithful perspective is greatly rewarded.
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A Good Way to Spend a Night In...
MovieAddict20164 April 2003
"A Simple Twist of Fate" is a decent dramatic-comedy, but some good potential was missed.

Steve Martin plays a quiet and lonely man who doesn't like people, and who lives for one thing only: His money collection. But one night it is stolen by one of the many Baldwin brothers, who disappears into the night. But new hope for Martin arises when a dead mother's child shows up on the doorstep (or IN the house for that matter) at Martin's; he takes her in after the frozen-to-death mother is shoveled off the driveway with a steamroller (no, no, I'm joking). But later, the town's richest man admits that the girl is his...after she is about twelve and is everything to Martin. Now Martin must fight to keep his adopted daughter. The judge says without money for college, Martin won't be able to keep the girl. So his only hope is to find the money that was stolen from him all those years ago.

"A Simple Twist of Fate" is a decent film, with a few laughs, but it's about a half hour too long and doesn't contain quite enough laughs. It's pretty sad when Catherine O'Hara generates more laughs in the film than Steve Martin himself.

Martin does well, but there is no explanation as to some of his quick character changes. I understand the girl changes his life and turns him from a private person to a social person, but it's not a gradual change: One day he is a man who hides in his cabin all day, the next day he's a regular Joe saying "Hi" to everyone in town.

Gabriel Byrne plays the real father of the girl, and he does pretty well (though it's not his most fondly remembered co-star role).

Catherine O'Hara, as I said before, delivered more laughs than the hilarious Steve Martin, which makes me wonder if the director wanted to give Martin a new "look" so to speak. Unfortunately, I like the old Martin better.

In the end, "A Simple Twist of Fate" is a pretty decent comedy/drama that I watch whenever it comes on TV, but I'd never buy it. Worth seeing once or twice.

3/5 stars -

John Ulmer
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