Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Critics Consensus: Though it betrays its theatrical roots, Six Degrees of Separation largely succeeds thanks to astute direction and fine performances -- particularly from an against-type Will Smith.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Two socialites find their view of the world changed when a young man takes advantage of their preconceptions in this thoughtful comedy-drama. Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) are a married couple who have built highly successful careers as art dealers catering to Manhattan's upper crust. The Kittredges are entertaining friends one evening when a young black man named Paul (Will Smith) appears at their door. Paul says that he's a close friend of their children, with whom he attended boarding school, and he's just been mugged and needs to get off the street for a moment. Flan and Ouisa invite him in, and they are immediately taken by Paul's intelligence and charm; he offers to prepare dinner, regales them with stories about his father, Sidney Poitier, and ends up spending the night at their apartment. However, the next morning Flan and Ouisa discover that they've been had; Paul is actually a con artist from the streets who has been pulling the wool over the eyes of many of their friends -- and his actions are beginning to have serious consequences. John Guare adapted the script from his own successful stage play; the supporting cast includes Ian McKellen, Mary Beth Hurt, Bruce Davison, and Heather Graham. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Six Degrees of Separation
Ultimately, Six Degrees of Separation will succeed or fail for the individual viewer based on their expectations and preferences.
It's too clever by half, an inside joke aimed at the New York gentry.
A mystery wrapped inside an enigmatic nation, flawlessly acted and difficult to predict. I'm always impressed when a movie informs about a foreign culture while it entertains, and this one is powerful art in that regard.
A rare sight: a sharply observed Hollywood satire of poignant ideas, such as opportunities in life, achieving fame in American society, and how we all are in one way or another con men.
It walks like a play and talks like a play, but thanks to the gentle direction and the performances from the crack cast -- particularly Channing and a never-better Smith -- it's satisfying as a movie.
Will Smith's greatest performance. A compelling drama.
One of Fred Schepisi's best films
Bitingly funny, with superb performances from Channing and Sutherland.
A multidimensional drama fueled by a thought-provoking screenplay, tart comic energy, firecracker surprises, and a spiritually vibrant finale.
There are those wonderful performances by the lead players - and especially Channing, who has been underused or misused most of her film career - and they make it fairly enjoyable entertainment.
The temporal experience of watching Six Degrees of Separation is one of absorption and intrigue.
Audience Reviews for Six Degrees of Separation
Way better than I expected. Stockard Channing was outstanding, the story was absorbing and I found it easy to forgive the obvious theatricality of the whole affair. Strangely for a drawing-room comedy - this film features some dynamite widescreen cinematography.More
Transferring stage plays to the screen is very tricky. By their nature plays are more dialogue heavy and are set in a much smaller world, often limited rooms etc. This is one of the films that seems to have a lot of trouble in transforming one medium to another. Lengthy dialogue isn't the problem though, it's the continuous retelling at different social occasions. Of course this all becomes the point by the last scene but it still feels awkward. The film could have shown so much more and rather than criticised the high-class wealthy elite it could have gone deeper into Paul's psychosis. At least for the audience if not the main characters. The film also revels in the fact it swings around issues of gays/blacks and both as though it is proclaiming something brand new and fascinating. Will Smith's refusal to actually kiss Anthony Michael Hall at the time says more about being black and gay than this whole film. It's certainly acted well for the most part, though it is clear to see how Smith has improved over the years. The humour also goes some way to creating a more enjoyable experience.More
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