Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1993. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Maiden Movies, New Regency Pictures. Screenplay by John Guare, based on his play. Cinematography by Ian Baker. Produced by Arnon Milchan, Fred Schepisi. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Production Design by Patrizia von Brandenstein. Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky. Film Editing by Peter Honess.
John Guare adapts his excellent play to the big screen with exceptional results. A New York society couple (Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing) are entertaining a foreign guest (Ian McKellen) in their swanky Manhattan apartment and are hoping he will make their big money dreams for their art dealing business come true. They are ungraciously interrupted by a young man (Will Smith) claiming to be the illegitimate son of Sidney Poitier and begging to be let in after being mugged and stabbed in Central Park, using his connection to their kids as backup. The next morning, however, they discover that he was just a hustler who was conning them out of fifty bucks and a place to stay. Or was he? In telling her story to her friends and having them relate similar incidences to her, Channing eventually discovers that this young man is looking for more than just quick cash: he’s looking for a doorway into this so-called enviable lifestyle. Dialogue is brilliant, performances even more so, overcoming the weak central performance by an unqualified Smith. Channing lights up the screen with her presence, and Patrizia von Brandenstein’s production design is gorgeous. Look for a cameo by the heavenly Madhur Jaffrey.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Actress (Stockard Channing)
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Stockard Channing)