The first mainstream Hollywood film to deal with the subject of AIDS, and one of the few to feature gay characters in a serious dramatic context, PHILADELPHIA is highly competent and equally--if surprisingly--conventional.
Handsome, self-assured young corporate lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is fired by his white-shoe Philadelphia firm when his sleek, self-satisfied employers--including Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards) and Bob Seidman (Ron Vawter)--discover that he's HIV positive. With the support of his
family--especially his mother, Sarah (Joanne Woodward)--and his lover, Miguel (Antonio Banderas), Beckett sues. But the only lawyer who will take his case is local ambulance chaser Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who's not sure he wants to be associated with a high profile case about homosexual
PHILADELPHIA fails to create complex characters or finely nuanced drama, but it succeeds in its real goal; the education of an audience whose thinking about AIDS and gay life has been shaped by notions of perversion and divine retribution. Screenwriter Ron Nyswaner and director Jonathan Demme
assemble a drama filled with familiar elements: the importance of family (and, especially, a mother's love for her children); the decent little man pitted against a smugly uncaring system; the mismatched legal team of affluent white suburbanite Beckett and struggling, black, city-bred Miller.
Strong performances from Hanks and Washington are among the film's greatest assets. Doomsayers foretold that the movie would fail to find a mainstream audience and that this would insure the subject's relegation, once again, to the independent arena, but the dire predictions proved false.
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: The first mainstream Hollywood film to deal with the subject of AIDS, and one of the few to feature gay characters in a serious dramatic context, PHILADELPHIA is highly competent and equally--if surprisingly--conventional. Handsome, self-assured young co… (more)