SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (1993) - BFI Black Star: Will Smith

Will Smith is an attractive performer, at ease in front of the camera and with a gift for comedy and more muscular roles, too. Six Degrees of Separation is arguably his most interesting ever film choice. How many black actors have taken on gay roles? Certainly not Denzel Washington, who foolishly advised Smith to avoid actually kissing his male co-actor. Well, the director, Fred Schepisi, found his own way around that hissy fit. 

Six Degrees … started out as a terrific play – Adrian Lester did a fantastic job of playing the role on the London stage. Here, the play’s original leading actress, Stockard Channing, reprises the role she created in the theatre – and she is wonderful. In the film, Donald Sutherland plays her husband. This drama about a black man who invades a white space is based on a true story and is a meditation on wealth/privilege, identity, fooling ourselves and fooling others. It is gripping and if you haven’t seen it, you’d better book now. 

Note that this is showing on a Monday (all the other films in the season are Saturday matinees).