Video Review

Six Degrees of Separation

MPAA Rating: R
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Movie Rated: R; Genre: Drama; With: Stockard Channing, Will Smith and Donald Sutherland

Ignore the cassette box of Six Degrees of Separation, on which Will Smith looms large between his costars as if this were a wacky episode of his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sitcom. Inside is something harder to sell but much more rewarding: an urbane Manhattan tragicomedy about a pathologically imaginative young man (Smith) who comes to dinner and convinces moneyed Ouisa Kittredge (Stockard Channing) and her art-speculator husband (Donald Sutherland) that he's Sidney Poitier's son and a Harvard classmate of their kids. John Guare's glittering dialogue, adapted from his play, sometimes gets too much competition from the lushly appointed scenery, which in turn loses a lot when cropped for video. But none of these compromises can dim Channing's Oscar-nominated star turn, which surefootedly diagrams the breakdown of a soul amid all the brittle chatter. B+

Originally posted Jun 17, 1994 Published in issue #227 Jun 17, 1994 Order article reprints