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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Simple twist of fate (released in 1994) - Starring Steve Martin and Alana Austin

This 1994 movie directed by Gilles Mackann is loosely based on the George Elliot Classic “Silas Marner”. Steve Martin turns script writer for this film which he also stars with Alana Austin.
Steve Martin stars as Micheal Mackann, a high school music teacher who is cheated upon by his wife. A heart broken Micheal retires to rural Virginia as a maker of finely crafted furniture. A sad and morose man Micheal lives life clutching his savings in the form of gold coins. Meanwhile this small ray of happiness is also taken away from him by Danny Newland, the wayward brother of politician John Newland. He crashes the car and steals Michaels gold coins to pay for the damage. Micheal is completely devastated and retreats in to solitude.
Soon the golden rays of goodness arrive in the the form of a blonde toddler who stumbles in to his house on a foggy morning. Her drug addict mother is found dead on the grounds and Micheal presents the baby to John Newland.

After seeing the mother's dead body, John understands that the baby is his, but he conceals the fact to protect his career. He undertakes the investigation and allows Micheal to adopt the toddler. Micheal christens her Mathilda, and with the help of April Simon raises the child who grows up in to a precocious teenager. Mean while Micheal is transformed in to a doting dad interested in community activities.
John Newland in the meantime along with his wife Nancy suffers miscarriages and yearns for a baby. He takes Mathilda under his wing. He even gives her riding lessons and gifts a pony of her own. Nancy also understands that Mathilda is his baby, gives her tacit consent. As time passes by John Newland feels the need for a child and confesses Mathilda's birth secret. Nancy urges him to seek custody of his daughter who has grown very close to Micheal.
As John Newland files the custody suit, Micheal is devastated and he resolves to fight for Matilda. The Newland lawyer insinuates unsavory incidents in Micheal's earlier marriage and also urges the judge to consider the financial implications about Mathilda's future. Considering Micheal's penury and the economic advantages for Mathilda even the judge is inclined towards the Newland's, in-spite of the girl's repeated cries for being with Micheal. Then the case blows wide open with the discovery of Danny Newland's body under a desilted tank. Danny's corpse is found clutching the bag of gold coins belonging to Micheal. This sudden riches equalizes Micheal's station in life with that of the Newland's. The Judge also implies the killing of Danny to be that of murder by the Newland's and gives Mathilda's custody to Micheal. Mathilda devoted to her adoptive father accepts her mother and visits her grave for redemption.
This movie was panned by majority of the critics who disliked a Victorian theme which had no relevance in the twentieth century. But the film proves to be a box office darling and had decent collections. Alana Austin was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of twelve-year-old Mathilda. Her younger sister Alyssa was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress Under Ten in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of the character at the age of five.
The movie is not recommended as a must watch and sometimes Steve Martin disappoints with this sad acts. If one has limited choices then this movie can be seen.

A Simple twist of fate (released in 1994) - Starring Steve Martin and Alana Austin

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