A Simple Twist of Fate

Last Updated on: October 18th, 2023

A Simple Twist of Fate (Touchstone Movie)

“A Simple Twist of Fate” is a 1994 drama film directed by Gillies MacKinnon. The movie is a modern retelling of the classic novel “Silas Marner” by George Eliot. It stars Steve Martin as Michael McCann, a reclusive furniture maker with a tragic past.

The story follows Michael, a lonely man who has shut himself off from the world after his wife’s betrayal and death. He lives a simple and solitary life, finding solace in creating beautiful furniture. One day, a young girl named Mathilda (Alana Austin) is left on his doorstep, and he reluctantly takes her in.

Over time, Michael develops a deep bond with Mathilda and becomes her adoptive father. As he cares for the young girl, he begins to open his heart to the possibility of love and family once again.

However, the tranquility of their new life is disrupted when Mathilda’s wealthy and manipulative biological father, John Newland (Gabriel Byrne), resurfaces, demanding custody of her. John’s return brings back painful memories of Michael’s past and threatens to tear apart the family they have built together.

As the custody battle ensues, Michael must confront his inner demons and fight for the happiness and security of the daughter he loves.

“A Simple Twist of Fate” is a heartwarming and poignant film that explores themes of love, redemption, and the power of family bonds. Steve Martin delivers a touching and understated performance as a man finding hope and purpose in unexpected circumstances.

The film’s narrative is enriched by the charming and heartfelt relationship between Michael and Mathilda, as well as the emotional complexities of the custody battle.

While “A Simple Twist of Fate” may not have received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, it has since gained a following among audiences who appreciate its emotional depth and thoughtful storytelling. The film remains a touchstone for viewers who enjoy heartfelt dramas centered around themes of family and personal transformation.

Additional Details


  • Steve Martin: Michael McCann
  • Alana Austin: Mathilda McCann
  • Gabriel Byrne: John Newland
  • Laura Linney: Nancy Newland
  • Catherine O’Hara: April Simon
  • Stephen Baldwin: Tanny Newland
  • Michael Des Barres: Bryce


  • Director: Gillies MacKinnon
  • Producers: Steve Martin, Ric Kidney and Karen Snow
  • Writer: Steve Martin

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of DisneyNews.us. My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and VideoGamesStats.com.