BIFF Film Review: Six Degrees of Separation (USA, 1993)

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One of the great things about Brisbane International Film Festival is not only the celebration of new films and innovations but also the celebration of old ones.

Six Degrees of Separation is almost incidentally nostalgic of New York, the 90s and the fantasy of socialites. Though there’s been enough time to get informed, it’s obvious this film is adapted from a theatrical production.

The film occupies conversation rather than action. The movie becomes introspective of the characters and something almost fantastical and surreal when regarding things that aren’t concrete. Themes drive the production, not plot.

Especially once you embrace the lack of linear plot in this story. The flashbacks and backtracks and the characters thinking backward and forward, understanding or losing their ignorance. Naturally, the early nineties music is just as enchanting.

But it’s the witty dialogue that holds viewers. It is an intellectual film, whatever that means. The characters are ludicrous, but you must bear in mind the comical rants and bizarre reactions are satire. Satire of the wealthy, satire of the wealthy’s children and most importantly satire of the idea that you have control over your life.

If you’re not prepared for it you could fall into a feeling that it is stuffy or pretentious, and perhaps slow paced. But its entire purpose is to be camp. It is theatre transmuted to screen, and when this is done well it becomes a titillating communiqué of thoughts. Six Degrees of Separation succeeds in this.

Will Smith is superb as the lying and lost youth that he plays. When events turn tragic his relationship with the Kittredges becomes convoluted and fascinating, as is the idea. There’s hesitation whether to call this a film based on a play, or a play created with film.

Regardless of such confusion Six Degrees of Separation remains a modern classic. One of the more understated, gentle, intellectual quirky films embedded in the stream of 90s cult classics. The film has favourable reviews on mega movie rating hubs like Rotten Tomatoes and IMBD. And this story continues to remain relevant to audiences today, earning its spot in the line up of old films at BIFF.

Review Score: FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE

Six Degrees of Separation was screened at – and was reviewed during – the Brisbane International Film Festival