All of the praise which this film has received and continues to receive is well-deserved. After seeing it again recently, however, I now think that the film's social issues have become, in the minds of many people, more important than its artistic issues whereas I see them as being of equal and inseparable importance. With all due respect to all the male AIDS victims when this film was cast, none of them could have achieved what Tom Hanks did in the role of Andrew Beckett. I presume to suggest, therefore, that this is a work of art which addresses truly serious issues which include but are not limited to AIDS within our society.
That said, the basic plot focuses on Beckett's wrongful termination by his law firm employer after its managing partner Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards, Jr.) and his senior associates learn that Beckett has AIDS. (He had not previously informed them.) He is represented in court by Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) who runs a highly-visible, high-volume firm which specializes in representation of individuals seeking damages such as those which result from automobile injuries. Miller is a homophobic when he first meets Beckett (who seeks him out) and declines to represent him. Later, he changes his mind for reasons which are best revealed in the film. All of the acting is first-rate. The film's dramatic impact is largely explained by the fact that Demme (with strong support by Hanks) was determined to treat an immensely complicated and sensitive situation with appropriate style, grace, taste, and respect. He and his associates succeeded.
Hanks received and deserved an Academy Award for best actor. My own opinion is that Neil Young deserved the Academy Award for best song which was awarded to Bruce Springsteen. Better yet, they should have called it a tie. Both deserved it. Given all the copy cat and sappy "music" which is composed for most films, Young's "Philadelphia" and Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" are not only uniquely powerful but enduringly haunting. My favorite scene is the last one which allows extended emotional involvement of the audience. No dialogue. No theatrics. Given how Andy Beckett's personality and character are presented in the film, this is precisely the way he would want his story to end.
Pros: a fantastic performance by all Cons: the devastation of human life The Bottom Line: ________ Philadelphia is the heart wrenching story of a successful attorney (Tom Hanks) that is gay, contracts AIDS and is fired from his position at a well known and respected law firm and centers on the basis and bias of people viewing the gay life style and the AIDS virus. Mr. Hanks gave a stellar view of the devastation that is your … more
This movie is indeed very touching. It really brings the AIDS crisis to life and raises many questions. Hopefully one day we will have some more answers. Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington are superb in their roles. It is very interesting to watch as Washington becomes more accepting of the lifestyle of homosexuals and the advent of the crisis of AIDS. What is also a nice in this film is the support Andrew Beckett(Tom Hanks) feels from his family regarding his discrimination battle. There needs to … more
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