Steve Martin is at it again remaking classic stories in new,
fresh, and wonderful ways. His best still is "Cyrano de Bergerac",
which he called ROXANNE but which I wish he had called it simply
CYRANO. This time it is "Silas Marner" and he titles this one A SIMPLE
TWIST OF FATE, but SILAS would have been my choice.
As you undoubtedly remember, Silas Marner is a story about a
cynical and angry hermit who has gold hidden away that gets stolen,
but, as a twist of fate, he somehow gets a little girl to care for and
raise in return. Martin, who wrote the excellent script, plays Silas
as a more positive creature especially after he gets his little girl.
Whereas the real Silas Marner story dwells on the gold, this one
focuses more time on the interaction of Martin and the girl. Overall,
the original Silas Marner is a morose story, but with happy parts.
Martin's version is much more upbeat. Even the villains are not that
This is a wonderful and realistic movie yet with a fairy tale feel
to it at times. You can especially see this in the mystical and
symbolic balloon episode.
The high points of the movie are the ingenuity of the script and
Martin's acting. Mathilda McCann, the little girl, was played by Alana
Austin (age 11), Alyssa Austin (age 5), Alaina Mobley (age 3), Callie
Mobley (age 3), Victoria Evans (age 1 - 1-1/2), and Elizabeth Evans
(age 1 - 1-1/2), and they were excellent. The rest of the characters,
especially Catherine O'Hara as April Simon, were all good.
The major problem in the show was the miscasting and misdirecting
of the villains. The rich bad guy was played by Gabriel Byrne and his
evil brother by Stephen Baldwin. Byrne barely acted in his part -
Zzzzz. Baldwin, who was a character you should have really hated,
played him way too soft.
Copyright © 1994 Steve Rhodes