A Simple Twist of Fate (1994)
User ReviewsReview this title
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.
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!
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.
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.
It rates an 8.8/10 from...
the Fiend :.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 -