By Doug Cummings
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Steve Martin's new drama, "A Simple Twist of Fate," contains entirely too much fate and not enough drama. Events occur in this movie that challenge the audience's suspension of disbelief to such an extent that the movie often appears to be satirizing the premeditated control a screenwriter has on a movie.
However, the writer of "A Simple Twist of Fate," Martin ("Roxanne") himself, displays no sense of control, so the characters in the movie continually regard the numerous, bizarre, and amazingly significant events that happen to them with calm acceptance.
The plot begins with Michael McCann's (Martin) wife telling him that her developed pregnancy is actually the result of someone else's doing. He bitterly divorces her and lives as a hermit, building and selling furniture out of his home, and at night, playing with his collection of gold coins and drinking himself to sleep.
The movie juxtaposes Martin's story with the events befalling a local politician, John Newland played by Gabriel Byrne ("Miller's Crossing"). One snowy night, the Newland's ex-wife becomes enraged in a drug-induced stupor and, taking their baby, drives to a ritzy party being thrown by her ex-husband. On the way, she runs out of gas and, stumbling through the snow, happens to die ten feet outside protagonist McCann's home. The baby wisely decides to walk into the house and crawl into bed with McCann.
McCain legally adopts the girl and thus begins the story of how an adoptive father raises a child, emotionally matures himself, and battles all the predictable complications immediately following the first half of the movie.
"A Simple Twist of Fate" was directed by Gillies MacKinnon ("Playboys") in an inexplicable visual style that looks as if they shot the entire movie through heavy sunglasses. Deep shadows adorn every shot and, while they visually compliment Martin's depression in the first half of the movie, the darkness strangely doesn't lift when Martin's mood finally brightens.
The movie is so dependent upon "twists of fate," such as the women's death at Martin's doorstep, the politician's brother wrecking his car in the woods and immediately staggering into Martin's house to steal his money, and numerous contrivances that culminate into a ridiculously lucky ending, that the audience is left to wonder what rules of nature govern the film. It is very difficult to become attached to a plot that consistently sidesteps normal reality.
Steve Martin wrote and produced "A Simple Twist of Fate" and his previous screenplays, "Roxanne" and "L.A. Story," smoothly incorporated fantastical events, creating a semi-surreal world of poignant comedy. Unfortuntately, "A Twist of Fate" only belittles its social issue about adoptive parenthood by presenting it through impossible episodes of fortuity.
"A Simple Twist of Fate" is showing at Century Park 12, 620-0750.
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