Saturday 22 June 2024

Movie Review: Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)

Genre: Dramedy  
Director: Fred Schepisi  
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Will Smith, Stockard Channing, Ian McKellen, Heather Graham, Mary Beth Hurt  
Running Time: 112 minutes  

Synopsis: In New York City, private art dealer Flan Kittredge (Donald Sutherland) and his wife Ouisa (Stockard Channing) live in a luxurious apartment. While entertaining a South African businessman (Ian McKellen), unexpected visitor Paul (Will Smith) arrives at their doorstep, professing to be a mugging victim, a Harvard classmate of the Kittredge children, and the son of Sidney Poitier. The Kittredge's are enchanted by Paul's sophistication, until they encounter a shock the next morning.

What Works Well: The adaptation of John Guare's play (in turn inspired by actual events) invades intellectual circles with an original mix of art, literature, sexuality, and bewildering con-jobs. Mild humour and madcap moments lighten the mood, and the characters are not beyond making light of their status-driven foibles while bumping against social issues including racism, classism, generational gaps, celebrity worship, and shady paths to wealth. The cast is rich with talent, and thrives within a milieu of goofy sophistication.

What Does Not Work As Well: Although director Fred Schepisi uses flashbacks and multiple storytelling frames, theatricality dominates, and many dialogue-heavy passages are wearily over-long. The second half notably loses steam in a search for content cluttered by barely consequential hangers-on. For all the insinuations around important topics, Guare's script is content with thematic gesturing and avoids venturing into substance.

Conclusion: Nibbles at a buffet of ideas but lacks focused commitment to any cause.

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