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Philadelphia
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Reviews & Ratings for
Philadelphia More at IMDbPro »

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112 out of 128 people found the following review useful:

Philadelphia is about life, and making it matter.

Author: budmassey (cyberbarrister@gmail.com) from Indianapolis, IN
14 February 2004

Philadelphia is a guttingly emotional and tragic story of how a lawyer fired for having AIDS attempts to vindicate himself in court. Tom Hanks gives perhaps the most powerful performance of his career as Andrew Beckett, the afflicted lawyer. He received the Academy Award in a waltz, and you could almost pick any of his major scenes as worthy of the award.

This movie is probably the best drama regarding gay issues ever made. Remember, it was made in 1993, when AIDS was still a terminal disease, and it recalls the early days of an epidemic that may not square with the vision afforded today, but at the time, this was the reality of AIDS.

The entire crew is A-List. Tak Fujimoto, who would also film Silence of the Lambs and Sixth Sense, directed cinematography. Jonathan Demme, also of Silence of the Lambs fame, directs with typical honesty and grit. Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young contributed hauntingly touching original songs. Even Antonio Banderas, whom I never miss an opportunity to vilify, is moving as Hanks' devoted and supportive partner. Denzel Washington was well cast as the homophobic lawyer who ultimately takes Hanks' case, and Mary Steenburgen is surprising in an uncharacteristic villain role.

Ron Vawter, who played one of the lawyers in the firm from which Hanks was fired, and also appeared in Silence of the Lambs, was himself suffering from AIDS at the time of filming, and he eventually succumbed to it a few years later. His appearance in the film encapsulates the reality of the AIDS epidemic, in that it often touched our lives in unexpected places.

Although I have literally thousands of movies in my collection, I don't own this one. Not because I don't love it. I do. It's because I can't watch it without being overcome by emotion. Anyone who can watch Hanks' in the Opera scene, or hear Springsteen's or Young's eerie and melancholy ballads and not weep is dead inside. But in the end, Philadelphia is about life, and making it matter.

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114 out of 163 people found the following review useful:

Gay Men Are Macho Too

8/10
Author: Angela K. Dyson (sugar_n_spice0@hotmail.com) from Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
13 December 1998

Philadelphia is a truly amazing movie and a touching story. Tom Hanks plays a lawyer who has been stricken with a horrible disease. He plays a convincing role as Andrew Beckett, a man who knows the meaning of justice and knows what exactly his rights are. What Mr. Hanks also accomplishes with this role is he breaks free from the stereotypes society has dictated on the average gay man. Andrew Beckett is not feminine in any way, he does not have a flair for shoe shopping or hold his arms limp-wristed or talk with a lisp. For these reasons, it has been said that Tom Hanks was not believable as a gay man. I strongly disagree. Andrew Beckett is a normal man who enjoys smoking cigars and takes joy in the law. Who would think he was gay? This is precisely the point the movie is trying to make. A gay man may be walking among you, every day you may see him at school, may play raquetball with him at the gym, may work late hours with him at the office... but yet you'd never suspect he is gay because he does not wear loafers decorated with tassels and he has a low-pitched voice. Men are men, whether gay or not, and should be treated as such -- gays do not deserve special treatment but they deserve equal treatment. Because in most areas, gay men are just like straight men. I commend Tom Hanks for showing the world that gay men can be just as manly as any other. His Oscar was well-deserved and the movie was amazingly ground-breaking.

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87 out of 119 people found the following review useful:

Not a better film in sight

10/10
Author: cossallpsycho from Nottingham, England
11 March 2001

With Hanks, who is always watchable, and Washington, who has also got a very good track record, this film was destined to be fantastic but not even I, who always has an optimistic view when it comes to movies, was ready for the impact that this film made. Tom Hanks excelled even himself with his performance as an AIDS striken homosexual who is fired from his job simply because of his condition. It is Hanks, by himself, who makes the whole scenario in the film believable. Although this is Hanks's best performance of his career, he is very closely followed by Denzel Washington who gives a perfect performance as the only lawyer who will take on the case although he is a homophobe himself. The emotional strain of the film on the audience is immense and in the later stages of the film it is almost impossible to watch because of that. The make-up which gives the impression that Hanks really does have the terrible disease is perfect and the simple yet striking direction from Jonathan Demme(The Silence Of The Lambs) make this utterly compelling viewing although at times it is very uncomfortable. All praise to everyone in the making of this beautiful film.

Anyone who hasn't seen this film must do as soon as possible.

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69 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Hanks gives his best performance ever

10/10
Author: Lee Eisenberg (lee.eisenberg.pdx@gmail.com) from Portland, Oregon, USA
5 October 2005

"Philadelphia" may be the movie that changed Hollywood. For so many years, they portrayed gays as sissies, but this movie forced them to change. Tom Hanks gives the performance of a lifetime as AIDS-afflicted lawyer Andrew Beckett, fired from his law firm after they discover his condition. Equally good is Denzel Washington as homophobic lawyer Joe Miller, who is forced to ignore his own stereotypes in taking Andrew's case. Good support also comes from Jason Robards as Andrew's vicious ex-boss, Joanne Woodward as Andrew's ever-loving mother, and Antonio Banderas as Andrew's companion.

Maybe this is just me, but I think that "Philadelphia" was released at just the right time. Think back to 1993. We had just come out of the Reagan-Bush years and we now had Clinton. Maybe he wasn't openly pro-gay, but he did change the military's policy towards gays. Moreover, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington are analogous to Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier: the embodiment of the new era under a new president (in Newman's and Poitier's case, it was Kennedy; in fact, those two co-starred in "Paris Blues" the year that Kennedy became president, much like Hanks and Washington were starring in "Philadelphia" the year that Clinton became president). But let's not get sidetracked. This is a great movie, and I recommend it to everyone.

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44 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely astonishing!! Hanks' best performance!!!

10/10
Author: The_Scientist-86 from Hampshire, England
23 August 2004

I only saw this film recently after I saw the special edition DVD for sale at only £5.99. I bought it and watched it as soon as i took it home and I thought it was amazing. Jonathan Demme's direction was great too. but the two best things about it was Tom Hanks' performance as the lawyer with aids and Bruce Springsteen's song " Streets of Philadelphia". I always thought that Liam Neeson's performance in Schindler's List was what should've recieved the Oscar in 1993. But when I eventually saw Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I could see why Hanks won. Denzel Washington as the homophobic but supportive lawyer is also great. The three, Hanks, Washington and Demme make a good team. The film is wonderful.

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57 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

Moving and Powerful! Demme shines!

Author: pjaldo1 from New Mexico, USA
6 September 2004

Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia" throws us into a world of pain and stark truth that is few and far between in mainstream cinema. The sheer idea that a film would so blatantly take on the difficulty of AIDS and homosexuality, helmed by the director of "Silence of the Lambs", the actor in "Big" and the guy who played Malcom X, is staggering.

AIDS is a reality and homophobia is a nasty truth that permeates our "United" States of America, as well as the rest of the world. At the time that this film was released (about 1993), the U.S. found solace in the idea that AIDS and homosexuality were dirty brothers in a distant family. By placing the film in the "City of Brotherly Love", hiring Bruce Springsteen to sing the title song and having an up-and-coming Tom Hanks star, director Jonathan Demme wisely readied an ignorant America for our first, uninhibited glance into the face of AIDS.

Tom Hanks embodied his role in an Oscar-worthy performance, allowing us to watch as his lovely and lively Andrew Beckett deteriorate before our eyes. Tom Hanks and the writers took to task the difficult and annoyingly controversial hurdle of playing the "gay" character and placing the "straight" audience into that different world. Stereotypes are mostly shied away from in the script with a few "fem" gays and drag queens. These scenes are few, but are also a reality. Many a Christmas party have I attended with the same crowd ("fems" and drag queens) in the mix. The other, mildly annoying, factor in this film is that the writers inform us that squeaky-clean gay Andrew Beckett contracts AIDS at a porn theater from an anonymous stranger, while in a committed relationship. This annoyed me because I wanted a righteous victim, not a impure victim. Yet as time has gone by and I have had the opportunity to work with many a victim of AIDS, whether be it male or female, gay or straight, I have seen that this too is an unfortunate reality. No one is perfect (gay or straight, male or female) and mistakes are often made. Costly mistakes are often made. This was a painful truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. In this, Tom Hanks as Mr. Beckett, brilliantly gave AIDS an honest face for a distant America.

Denzel Washington, on the other hand, allowed America to have a relatable character, one whose shoes we've fit in before. Denzel's views of homosexuality were (and still are) commonplace in the American psyche and his reactions to AIDS were understandable to the average audience. Yet all in all this dramatic film brought a message home.

Demme's directing style is nothing amazing; he tastefully weaves a tale without flashy shots or fancy cuts. At times the film borders on preachy, but, as always, it is Demme's story that grasps the audience, his mood that sets us into the tale, his actors and his direction of them that gives the film honesty. This film is highly recommended if not for the great acting but for lovers of a great story.

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48 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful.

9/10
Author: Marc David Jacobs from Portland, Oregon, United States
10 August 1998

A touching movie, which has taken the place of "The Fugitive" (1993) as my favorite movie. Tom Hanks' performance was obviously worthy of his first Oscar for his portrayal of Andrew Beckett, a gay, AIDS-stricken man who was fired from his job for what he believes to be discrimination against his sexual orientation and disease. Denzel Washington, in his portrayal of Joe Miller, the ex-homophobic who decides to help Andrew win his case, is excellent, deserving of a Best Supporting Actor award. This story of AIDS, homophobia and homosexualism is first-rate. I highly recommend this to anybody looking for a great movie.

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36 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Compelling, but over the top

8/10
Author: scubergmu from Fairfax, Virginia
22 April 2005

To me this movie is both a relevant and compelling story, as well as a model of overcompensation. I feel as though Philadelphia was trying desperately to show a touching, human side to the AIDS epidemic, but at the same time overly conscious of the lack of compassion much of middle America has for homosexual victims of AIDS. As a result, our protagonist Andrew Beckett is made to be a virtual superman. I would have had more respect for the film if they'd made him more like you and me. If he had been a bright, successful lawyer with friends, a loving family, and a serious relationship that would have made him someone we could really relate to. Instead, Andrew was a legal phenom, THE rising star, future senior partner, the future leader of the law firm. And in his personal life, he was the most popular person at his firm, beloved by all. More than that, he was the most popular member of his whole family, he was brilliant, affable, going straight to the top, simply AMAZING!!! Doesn't it seem like they tried too hard to get us on his side? To show the human story of AIDS, show us an actual person, not superman. That is problem with Philadelphia.

Having said that, Tom Hanks was fantastic, as usual. Denzel was also rock solid, his character basically representing all of us, the general public, the ones who don't empathize with gays because they either don't know any, or aren't conscious they know any, and fail to appreciate that they are real people and not merely stereotypes. His enlightenment with regards to this is one aspect of the movie I felt they came through on exceptionally.

Philadelphia was an important story to be told, for just like so many other human tragedies, for us the unaffected to be able to see just one example up close and personal, it carries so much more weight than all the news reports and statistics in the world. I hope it had some positive impact in creating compassion among the general public. I just wish the film makers hadn't felt it would be necessary to go to superhuman lengths to give us a character we could feel for.

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Unfortunately Misguided Criticism Should Not Stop Anyone From Seeing This Film

Author: FilmAficionado from The Real World
4 April 2002

This is the first review I've written on IMDB, but I shouldn't have to write one for a film of this caliber. It succeeds in everything it attempts to do and it bothers me when I read comments from gay readers that absolutely loathe this film. After thinking about it for a little bit, I think I've found the reason for why all the gay viewers hated this film: they're sick of the pity and the sympathy. I can understand that, and it is basically impossible to make a quasi-realistic film about gay rights and anti-homophobia without exhibiting some sympathy for the alienated gay population. I admit that I have little experience with gays, although I am acquainted with a few. They are on wonderful terms with their families (even though one homosexual writes here that families are NOT like that). I disagree with people who think that because their family is displeased with their sexual orientation, every gay person is estranged from their family. That is untrue. Another wrong comment I read was that the film gives viewers the impression that gays are the only ones that can get AIDS (and that the disease is always deadly). That is false, as well, since a portion of the movie deals with a woman who is an AIDS survivor and who contracted the disease in a blood transfusion. There are many other ways of getting AIDS, but it would be impossible for the film to identify every single way in order to be PC. The most powerful argument against this film seems to be that it is anti-homosexual propaganda in how it shows the relationship between Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas. First of all, everyone is making a big deal that Hanks and Banderas do not kiss. Apparently, filmmakers cannot possibly show love between two people without having them kiss. It sounds to me that most disappointed gay readers were hoping to see gay pornography rather than a film about two homosexuals and the troubles they face when one of them contracts AIDS. They do not kiss, fine, but they dance, they talk to one another in such a way that I, a heterosexual man, envied the relationship they had. The first time we see Banderas is when he is racing to the hospital to see if Hanks is okay. I know if my girlfriend were in the hospital, I would probably look and act the exact same way that he does. I disturbs me that so many gay readers would rather see the two of them make out than display affection for one another in more powerful ways. Another argument I noticed more than once was that, aside from Hanks' character, the film portrays all gays as "pansies." Believe me, the critics here are far more stereotypical than this film is. One scene that comes to mind is when Denzel Washington is shopping in a grocery store and a college athlete approaches him to praise him for his work. Washington is gracious and it comes off as a surprise when the athlete starts to hit on him. I suppose that most gay viewers saw that message as something along the lines of "Gays are everywhere...watch out!" If that were the case, the film would have glorified Washington's character, but instead we feel sorry for liking Denzel. Why do we like him? Because too many of us are like him, just average people who want to take a few steps back every time a homosexual walks nearby. By presenting someone that we all can associate with and highlighting his flaws (which are, essentially, our own), maybe we can begin to change. As for the film, I find it hard to believe that anyone would rent this thinking that it is simply a courtroom drama. It is well-written, and well-acted. I mostly enjoyed some fabulous direction on Jonathan Demme's part. I remember, in particular, that when Hanks would recall when he was fired, his associates had the appearance of monsters. The camera would show them in a darker light, up-close, at an awkward angle. Many other viewers found this to be "cartoony," but they're forgetting that these scenes were not reality. They were simply memories, and although Hanks' character is a noble, honorable, unfortunately ill homosexual, he naturally feels angry towards his former employers. He's furious, even though he rarely lets out any of that fury directly. The only way we see these memories is through his distorted memories. Hanks is frustrated and furious with what happened and he cannot look at his former employers anymore without seeing monsters. In this way, the filmmakers build a connection between Hanks' character and the viewers, gay or not. This also helps the viewer sympathize for homosexuals and see how they are essentially no different than anyone else. I apologize. I am sorry that so many gays would rather remain alienated, would rather see Hanks and Banderas act in gay porn than a meaningful film. I am sorry that there is even one homosexual out there who are is alienated from their families that they have no one to really turn to. This film is not the most accurate portrayal of homosexuals, but is far from the worst. Do not even attempt to persuade me, that this film is nothing but worthless drivel, that it tries to alienate gays even more. It is as accurate as it has to be. If it were to go too far over the line, it would be too much for the average person to handle. Viewers have to remember that controversial topics like these have to be handled carefully, and it could not have been done better than in "Philadelphia." If all gay people are looking for is a depressing, uninventive, inaccurate P.O.S. that emphasizes homosexual kissing rather than acceptance and integration, then maybe they should remain alienated. Sorry.

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34 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Great

10/10
Author: LeThAlWeApOn389
22 June 2003

This movie was fantastic.I am a huge Tom Hanks fan. This was one of those movies that really show if an actor really knows how to act. Denzel Washington, I think, should have won the "Supporting Actor" award for 1993 because he was exceptional in the movie. I really enjoyed watching this movie because it made you laugh and cry and very few movies do that. Tom Hanks is the only actor to win two consecutive "Best Actor" awards (Philadelphia and Forrest Gump) and I think Philadelphia was the start of his superior career in acting. In conclusion, I rate Philadelphia a 10 and I recommend it to all Tom Hanks fans.

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