Love how my hometown, is exactly the perfect place for sticking up for equal rights! Love you Philly!
Philadelphia attorney Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks, in an Oscar-winning role) launches a wrongful termination suit against the hand that feeds him when his law firm finds out about his HIV-positive status — and his homosexuality — and fires him. Denzel Washington co-stars as a homophobic lawyer who reluctantly agrees to take Andy’s case in this Jonathan Demme-directed film.
Philadelphia is one of the first mainstream films, to actually tackle such themes like homosexuality, HIV/AIDS, and homophobia, and to be brutally honest about it all. Back in 1993 HIV was known about, and once in awhile talked about, but it was never brought up full in frontal, and you knew every single little detail about it. And that’s where this film’s strong point lies. I like how director Jonathan Demme directed this movie, by showing AIDS up close an personal. He shows the scars, he shows the pain, the weakness, and the overall sorrow that this sickness does to the victim, and as well as the people around them. He shows these people as real human beings, not just some gay freak, who is going to die soon, no, he shows them as person, that just so happens to be effected by something terrible.
The script starts out very, very strong showing us real, and truthful dialogue of how real people speak about homosexuals, the only problem is, by the end of the film it starts to crumble a bit. The courtroom scenes weren’t anything different, and right from the beginning you know how this film is going to end. It blows that all that courtroom stuff is unwieldy, cause everything else works so fine.
Tom Hanks gives one of his most powerful performances ever, as Andy Beckett. He does a great job at playing a very cliched character, that is usually one-sided and just shown as a total mope, but here Hanks does so well showing the happy sides to his character. You see Beckett as a real person, and although things may look bleak, he still looks to the sky for the happiest of thoughts. Denzel Washington gives off his most underrated performance ever, and should have been nominated for some sort of award, cause he does a perfect job at playing this pride-given lawyer, that at first is against this case, cause he’s a total homophobe, but changes his mind and gets to accept gay people, as real people. These two build a chemistry on-screen that is good, and puts the heart where it’s at in this film. Also, need I forget to mention Antonio Banderas, Mary Steenburgen, and Jason Robards are all in this doing well also.
Consensus: The last act may be less powerful than you would expect, but the terrific performances from Hanks and Washington, as well as the sensitive, but realistic direction from Demme, gives Philadelphia the perfect heart it needs.