by Bret W.
How far would you go to improve your station in life? What would you overcome, and what would you be willing to become? These are questions answered in the life of one young man named Paul, and questions pondered by those whose lives he has touched, if only for a moment in time.
Paul is an eloquent young African-American man who claims to be someone he is not in order to insert himself into the lives of high-society art dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge. He claims to know their children from the school they attend. He claims to be the son of Sidney Poitier. Of course, none of it is true, but the Kittredges, either through a need to appease some underlying Caucasian guilt or just through sheer naivete, are swept up in his story and become enamored of their young con. Yes, he has conned them, but what did he con them out of? At the end of the night he has stolen nothing except their time and a slice of their lifestyle.
The story is told by the Kittredges, narrated throughout to different parties as a single story, and as it progressed. In the end, the Kittridges, and Ouisa in particular, are drawn into Pauls life and unable to let him be.
Will Smith’s acting, while superb on certain levels, is unconvincing and stiff as his portrayal of a gay man. It is apparent that he did not want to do all that he had to do to play the part properly. Regardless, while his performance takes some away from the quality of the film, his performance as Paul the con man brings the film back to its original level. What he lacks in playing a gay man he makes up for in playing the essence of Paul.
In addition, Sutherland and Channing are fabulous as the art dealing couple. Like a longtime comedy partnership, their timing was impeccable, and helped the story move along.
Definitely a film to make you think, Six Degrees of Separation is also a very entertaining film and worthy of a look.