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A Simple Twist of Fate (1994)
Outstanding adaptation of a great novel
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.