23 April 2012

A Simple Twist of Fate (starring Steve Martin)

Amazon often recommends DVDs to me based upon those I have already put on my wishlist, or which I have rated highly in their system. I have enjoyed several films featuring Steve Martin, so when this one appeared as a recommendation - and was highly rated by reviewers - I assumed it was a light comedy in the style, perhaps, of Parenthood or Roxanne.

So 'A Simple Twist of Fate' went on my wishlist, and I was pleased to receive it for my recent birthday. The cover does nothing to dispel the idea that this film is a light comedy - it shows Steve Martin (as Michael) looking quirky, with a cute child (Mathilda) at his feet. I gathered that the plot revolved around these two getting together in some way...

So it was a bit of a shock when the early part of the film was a long way removed from a comedy. The
first part is - basically - one tragedy after another, including adultery, poverty, drug addiction, burglary, blackmail, a car crash... we began to wonder what we were letting ourselves in for!

When Michael and Mathilda meet, the film does lighten up somewhat and there are some amusing scenes - as well as some very tense ones. Steve Martin is excellent in the quirky comedy line, and some of his ideas for parenting are decidedly wacky. But he raises a good daughter... perhaps too well, since her real father decides to try and woo his daughter. Which means that the final part of the film is a somewhat moving (and somewhat distressing, at times) court scene.

Overall, we thought it an excellent film, once we had realised that it wasn't quite the genre we were expecting. Steve Martin is superb in the role of Michael who seems to have lost everything until little Mathilda walks into his life; the various actresses who play her at different ages do extremely well, and the supporting cast are believable too. Although the early scenes were perhaps too awful for enjoyment, we thought that overall it was very well done, with quite a thought-provoking plot and a satisfying (if macabre) ending.

What surprised us was that the UK rating for this film was only PG. The US rating of PG-13 seems more appropriate. Admittedly there is no bad language, no actual violence and no scenes of intimacy... but the subject matter of the first part of the film could be very disturbing to a young child.

Recommended to adults and teenagers.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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