Six Degrees of Separation: Before Kevin Bacon

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Have you seen Six Degrees of Separation? If not, or if it’s been a while, you need to drop everything and watch immediately. I L-O-V-E this film. I love young Will Smith in a vacation from his goofy-Fresh-Prince persona, I love Donald Sutherland and his heavy bruiting, I love Stockard Channing as the quintessential Fifth Avenue socialite mom, and I LOVE how the movie really makes you think. I know, I know, I hate thinking too – but hear me out.

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Will Smith’s character Paul shows up at Flan and Ouisa Kittredge’s (played by Donald and Stockard) swanky apartment and claims to be a friend of their kids, injured and in need of help. He also says he’s Sidney Pointier’s son, and that connection to celebrity, wealth, and sophistication somehow legitimizes him (society is messed up, man) so they welcome him into their ritzy home.

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He knows about food, he knows about art (next time you’re at a fancy party, comment on the “double Kandinsky!” and listen closely for crickets), he knows about prestigious education. But things get complicated when the couple realizes he isn’t exactly who he claims to be.

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This is the moment that I find most fascinating – Paul did know those things, he was sophisticated and cultured, and yet the couple was so horrified to discover he lied about himself. But if we turn that same mirror on ourselves – isn’t it true that we’re all pretending to be someone else?

Sure, Google and Wikipedia may make it difficult to pretend to be an acclaimed actor’s child, but aren’t we all conning each other in one way or another? The Kittredge’s have three successful kids (“two at Harvard, one at Groton!”) and yet they tell the epic story of a young con man at all of their cocktail parties.

Isn’t it interesting how they felt so violated and duped, but their brief interaction with Paul gave them something of true interest to share and discuss? It bonded them in a new way – it brought meaning in their vapid socialite world.

We’re all connected by six degrees or less and every relationship is based on chaos and order, just like the double Kandinsky. Maybe the Kittredge’s worst event was actually their best… but that’s none of my business *sips tea.*

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Watch Six Degrees of Separation, now playing on EPIX and EPIX.com.