A Simple Twist of Fate

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Inspired by George Eliot's Silas Marner, Martin wrote this ambitious contemporary drama of parents and parenthood, and assigned himself the demanding role of cabinet-maker Michael McCann, a reclusive miser offered a chance to rebuild his life by a chance encounter on a winter's evening. As her mother lies dying in the snow, a toddler wanders into McCann's isolated homestead, a little girl whom he adopts only to discover, a decade later, that her real father is local politico John Newland (Byrne). Power now allows Newland to admit his claims on the child. By the time the legal contest begins to define the true nature of 'family' ties, the film has already generated a fair head of sympathy in the viewer. The early exposition is crisply handled by Scottish director MacKinnon, while the scenes between Martin and his adopted daughter deftly blend light comedy and an emotional bond that carries through to the rest of the film. The stumbling point, really, is the contrived narrative line, which throws on coincidence with the abandon of a Victorian potboiler, while the tension between the two 'fathers' would seem even more pat were not Martin and Byrne's performances so humanely drawn.

Release details

Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Gillies MacKinnon
Screenwriter: Steve Martin
Cast: Byron Jennings
Stephen Baldwin
Gabriel Byrne
Steve Martin
Michael Des Barres
Laura Linney
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