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Six Degrees of Separation 1990 ****

Adapting his own Broadway hit, playwright John Guare fashioned a playful and unusual drama based on a real incident, in which a well-dressed young man Paul (Will Smith) insinuated himself into a series of well heeled households pretending to be the son of actor Sydney Poitier, and bleeding from a recent mugging. Initially Central Park socialites Flan and Ouisa (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) take him in, but when the boy leaves in insalubrious circumstances, they discover that they’re only the latest victims of a repeated con-trick. Chatty and erudite as Paul himself, Fred Schlepsi’s frothy drama uncovers a heart of darkness when Paul’s true motive are unveiled. Great support from Heather Graham and Ian McKellern, and yes, that’s the JJ Abrams in a minor role.

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