A Simple Twist of Fate, Steve Martin's second adaptation of a classic (after his Roxanne-ization of Cyrano de Bergerac), is a melancholy, dramatic comedy about a recluse coming out of his shell. Suggested by George Eliot's Silas Marner, this isn't a cutesy picture akin to Father of the Bride. It's much more heartfelt, gentle, and satisfying, as long as you accept its traditional and predictable conclusions. Scorned by life, Michael McCann (Martin) lives in an auburn-tinted town and goes on with his colorless life. That is, until an abandoned child is left on his doorstep, and he adopts her. A custody battle ensues years later with far too many cheap, unconvincing courtroom dramatics in which money is the root of all evil, but the tone and wholesomeness of the story are special. Gabriel Byrne pulls off a nearly unplayable role as the town's aristocrat with fine underplayed support by Catherine O'Hara and youngster Alana Austin. The wonderful score is by Cliff Eidelman. --Doug Thomas
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