Six Degrees Of Separation

A young hustler (Will Smith) claiming to be the son of Sidney Poitier cons his way into the upper-class Manhattan household and affections of a middle-aged couple (Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland), with disquieting and soul-searching consequences once his fraud is discovered. John Guare adapted this 1993 film from his own play, transplanting the action from a bare stage to a variety of realistic locations, most in Manhattan. Fortunately (and daringly) he’s retained the play’s highly theatrical language, and Fred Schepisi’s razor-sharp direction makes it both sing and soar as it explores some of the social gulfs and philosophical crevasses that define contemporary urban life. The movie basically belongs to Channing, who gives it both moral force and heat, but Schepisi delivers an audacious lesson in making the theatrical cinematic. (JR)

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