Title: Six Degrees of Separation
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Fred Schepisi
Writer: John Guare
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography: Ian Baker
Mary Beth Hurt
Anthony Michael Hall
Nearly 20 years ago, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION should be regarded as Will Smith’s breakthrough role into the mainstream Hollywood, the film is adapted by a renowned play by John Guare, directed by Aussie Fred Schepisi (from A CRY IN THE DARK 1988) and Channing reprises her role in the film edition which has guaranteed her sole Oscar nomination so far.
Ever since the opening strain, there are echoes of high-class snootiness abounds which sets the keynote of the whole conversation-foiled phoniness among its quite antipathetic characters, namely the Kittredge couple, then when Will Smith’s young intruder emerges, the tension never alleviates although it seems that from the surface the harmony is unfeigned at the beginning and Smith’s identity as Sidney Poiter’s son is ever questioned, simply since he knows their children’s name and his eloquent run-down of his father’s filmography, but presented by Smith’s black color, the unspeakable sensitivity of racism is well-written and underscored. Added that the paraphrase of CATCHER IN THE RYE is more or less a stratagem of showboating, so when all the boast ends, the ugly truth manifests himself, a satirically comedic story continues with a welter of less spectacular vignettes.
Written from a true story, John Guare’s screenplay is less staggering than the integral cast, Channing is superb in her final revelation scene but elsewhere, her ability is curbed and sometimes even a bit OTT, Sutherland is more natural and his role is much worse in both moral and ethnic gauges, still another great performance for his undervalued career. Will Smith is the linchpin to influence his low-life leverage onto these upmarket snobs, his performance is not so astonishing on account of the greenness and rawness, but he is luminous in front of cameras, although the fake gay-kiss is a let-down, Hollywood’s conservationism is just as dreadful and stinking as its unimaginative blockbuster monopoly.
Funny thing is that in the film, Smith make a spiel on the importance of the supremacy of imagination, which plays a grave part in distinguishing human from other species, but now has being over-abused in the mundane media, but the whole theory is too feeble to be taken seriously, neither by upper class nor by those less self-concerned great amount of masses. So who is the real audience of the film? The filmmakers behind it had not a clue!
PS: a young J.J. Abrams is in the film as well, as an actor, who could expect that?