On his first day on the job as a Los Angeles narcotics officer, a rookie cop goes beyond a full work day in training within the narcotics division of the L.A.P.D. with a rogue detective who isn't what he appears to be.
Fearing it would compromise his career, lawyer Andrew Beckett hides his homosexuality and HIV status at a powerful Philadelphia law firm. But his secret is exposed when a colleague spots the illness's telltale lesions. Fired shortly afterwards, Beckett resolves to sue for discrimination, teaming up with Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), the only lawyer willing to help. In court, they face one of his ex-employers top litigators, Belinda Conine.Written by
Crewman reflected in hospital door as Joe Miller opens it, after the trial. See more »
[to her colleagues, after having held a mirror in front of Andy to show the court his skin lesions]
I hate this case.
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"This motion picture was inspired in part by Geoffrey Bowers' AIDS discrimination lawsuit, the courage and love of the Angius family and the struggles of the many others who, along with their loved ones, have experienced discrimination because of AIDS." See more »
The cable and network television versions of Philadelphia edit out portions of the pharmacy scene where a gay University of Pennsylvania law student attempts to pick up Joe Miller. These two versions end this scene with the law student responding "Do I?" to Joe Miller's question concerning whether Miller looked gay. In the theatrical, home video and premium channel versions, Joe Miller continues to berate the law student with bigot remarks regarding homosexuals. See more »
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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