Six Degrees of Separation

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.



Total Count: 32


Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,649
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Six Degrees of Separation Photos

Movie Info

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

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Stockard Channing
as Ouisa Kittredge
Donald Sutherland
as Flan Kittredge
Ian McKellen
as Geoffrey
Richard Masur
as Dr. Fine
Heather Graham
as Elizabeth
Joe Pentangelo
as Police Officer
Lou Milione
as Hustler
Vasek Simek
as Frank the Doorman
as Jeannie
Maggie Burke
as Loft Party Guest
Edmond Genest
as Loft Party Guest
Michael Stanley Kirby
as Loft Party Guest
David Callegati
as Art Dealer
John Rowe
as Usher
Jose Rabelo
as 2nd Elevator Man
Todd Alcott
as Concert Goer
JoAnna Noble
as Concert Goer
Annie Meisels
as Doug's Girl
Mitch Kolpan
as Policeman
Tony Zazaula
as Rainbow Room Captain
Arthur McGill
as Hansom Cab Driver
Susan Tabor
as Posh Couple
Paul Schmidt
as Posh Couple
Carolyn Groves
as Cocktail Party Guest
Jeannine Moore
as Cocktail Party Guest
Tim Saunders
as Cocktail Party Guest
David Tice
as Cocktail Party Guest
Margaret Thomson
as Grandmother at Baptism
Vince O'Brien
as Grandfather at Baptism
Anne Swift
as Guest at Baptism
Richmond Hoxie
as Guest at Baptism
Kitty Carlisle Hart
as Mrs. Bannister
Madhur Jaffrey
as Guest of Honor
Brooks Arthur
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Jacqueline Bertrand
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Lisa Crosby
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Nancy Duerr
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Brian McConnachie
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Angela Thornton
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Robert Trumbull
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Richard Whiting
as Mrs. Bannister's Guest
Cleo King
as Lieutenant Price
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News & Interviews for Six Degrees of Separation

Critic Reviews for Six Degrees of Separation

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (5)

  • Ultimately, Six Degrees of Separation will succeed or fail for the individual viewer based on their expectations and preferences.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's too clever by half, an inside joke aimed at the New York gentry.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 2, 2012 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 7, 2007 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Sep 8, 2005 | Rating: 4/5
  • Will Smith's greatest performance. A compelling drama.

    Aug 13, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Six Degrees of Separation

  • Sep 26, 2017
    In an interesting dream scenario, rich, upper Eastside New Yorkers have their guilt about racial inequality expunged by a run-in with streetwise Will Smith (who incredibly learns to fake a Harvard-worthy education in 3, count'em, 3 weeks!). Sutherland and Channing do well for this off-to-see-the-wizard roadtrip, merely bouncing off one another as they relate to the wine and cheese set what it was like to bump against one of the (shiver!) great unwashed. You don't hear about this fantasy much because of the rarified clientele it kowtows to. Still, everyone does their job, even if the story never leaves the environs of 34 floors above Central Park. The dripping, well intentioned liberalism nearly drowns, however clever, however manipulative. Worth seeing though, if only for the brief treatise on Catcher In The Rye, engagingly delivered by Smith.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 29, 2014
    It was a clever piece and Will Smith did a pretty good job. However, I think it is better as a play than as a film.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer
  • Mar 21, 2014
    Will Smith's first test of his ability to actually act..and he passes as a wonderful con artist. A good if not great tale.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 02, 2013
    Six Degrees of Separation is one in a long line of 90s film adaptations of a stage play, centering around a young man, played by Will Smith, who enters the lives of two socialites, both confounding and informing the people he crosses paths with. It's a very unique film, though not entirely successful. That the film is based on a theatrical play is evident throughout. It's very talky, and completely dialogue-driven. If done correctly, this can be work, but if done poorly, it can be a disaster. Six Degrees of Separation manages to give the script a cinematic flavor, changing up the scenes, keeping the story kinetic, but still has a stylistic and affected dialogue which is simply not befitting of a film drama. The acting seems fine, but the lines the characters have to deliver never quite feel true. To be sure, capturing the finer points of modern intellectual discourse is tricky, especially in a comedic format (perhaps they should have consulted with Woody Allen), but doing so properly is essential. Thus, the film never fully makes the transition from theater to film, many of the situations simply feel more at home in an art house, not a movie. The story itself is undeniably intriguing, however. What I appreciated most was how the film incorporated all of the characters, and weaved a story that connected all of them, yet not in an obvious or melodramatic way. Instead, the film weaved the narrative such that we are painted a portrait of New York socialite life, while also taking the time to give some social commentary (albeit a little on-the-nose). The humor is inconsistent, but also undeniable at times. The exact tone of the film can be a bit unnerving, in that we're never quite sure if it's being tongue-in-cheek, or unabashedly preachy. This can certainly be considered a failing, as the film seems lost in itself often times, a bit too bogged down on its own cleverness. With its theatrical roots, it certainly isn't for everyone, but interesting enough to give it merit. 3/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer

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