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4.8 out of 5 stars134
4.8 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2004
After a long battle with my Mom, that ended with the deal "If you watch Escaflowne: The Movie, I'll watch Philadelphia with you", I finally sat down to watch it. Flop knows why I put this film off for so long.
Based on the novel, Philadelphia tells the story of Andrew Beckett, an excellent lawyer fired from his prominant law firm after the partners discover he had AIDs. The film follows his path as he chooses to take the firm to court, and and leads up to the outcome of the trial.
This film has to be one of Tom Hanks' graetest achievements. Possibly one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in cinema ever comes as Tom Hanks emotively describes an opera song, 'La Mamma Morte' as Maria Callas version plays in the background. This culmination of emotions, the combination of music, facial expression and story-telling evoke a sort of deep heart felt sorrow for this man. It is, put simply, a beautiful scene.
Performances by Denzel Washington and Antonio Banderas should not be ignored either, as they act in such a way as to create an air of natural behaviour, emotion and conflict. I do feel, however, that Banderas' character, Miguel, came off better in the novel, as more time was given to him and his feelings. However, Banderas worked well with what he was given, so commendation must go to him.
The brilliant thing about Philadelphia is that the film is not only about AIDs and homosexuality. It brings to light the issues of discrimination in the workplace.
Put plainly, this is a film definately worth watching, especially with a box of hankies nearby.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2002
I've watched this film so many times and it never fails to evoke the same intensity of emotion. Tom Hanks is absolutely outstanding; the whole cast have been superbly selected. The relationship between Andrew Beckett (Hanks) and Joe Miller (Washington) develops before your very eyes, the scene in the library being the catalyst, when Miller realises that discrimination and prejudice aren't just confined to the colour of skin. There are even a few light moments - notice how Miller's wife, having just given birth, takes the camera off her fumbling husband to put the film in!! The sheer loneliness of Beckett's attempts to find someone to fight his case is amplified by the haunting soundtrack. The courtroom scenes are tense, with Miller's humour being the only relief. It's the final part that really proves gutwrenching; Beckett in hospital saying goodbye to his family and the "home videos". Brilliantly directed and worth every penny.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2001
If you haven't seen this film, you really are missing something fantastic. The way this film tackles the issue of AIDS head on is brilliant and the cast is simply superb and really help bring the film to life! However, perhaps the most brilliant aspect of this film is that, although it is advertised as a film about AIDS (which of course, it is) it is as much about the attitudes of society towards homosexuality as it is about AIDS. The clever bit is that the films producers clearly understood modern attitudes and were aware that a groundbreaking film about AIDS would get far higher viewing figures than a film about homosexuality. However, by the time you realise that the film is not just about AIDS, you are hooked and only the most devout homophobe would not be touched and have their eyes opened to the prejudice that still surrounds us today. An excellent film and worth more than 5 stars!!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2004
"This is the essence of discrimination: Formulating opinions about others not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in a group with assumed characteristics." (School Board of Nassau County v. Arline, 480 U.S. 273 (1987) (Brennan, J.), on remand, 692 F. Supp. 1286 (M.D. Fla. 1988)). This rule, reaffirmed by the landmark Supreme Court decision which, over the dissent of Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia, first recognized the infection with a contagious disease (tuberculosis) as an actionable handicap under federal law, forms the initial bond between star litigator Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) and ambulance chaser Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), the unlikely team at the center of this movie. Because through these words, black attorney Miller begins to realize that his colleague Beckett faces a handicap which, in essence, is not so different from that confronted by many of his fellow African Americans. And because this is an incredibly effectively scripted Hollywood movie, we, the audience, easily get the point as well; even if we're white, and even if we're not gay and/or suffering from AIDS like Beckett.
Of course, the insidiousness of the AIDS virus places those afflicted with it in a class of their own, and while the movie spares its viewers the pictures of some of the virus's most graphic effects, it does go to considerable length to show the physical decline associated with it - not only in the person of Beckett himself, for whose role Hanks literally almost starved himself. Some of the patients surrounding him in the movie's earlier emergency room scenes really were AIDS patients, whom Hanks had approached when preparing for the movie, and who had subsequently agreed to participate; and as Hanks emphasized during an appearance in Bravo TV's "Inside the Actors' Studio," not all of them are still alive. - Denzel Washington's appropriately named Joe Miller, middle class everyman in everything but the color of his skin (one of the movie's obvious bows to political correctness), displays an attitude uncomfortably familiar to many of us; shunning gays in general and the HIV-infected Beckett in particular, out of a mixture of ignorance about AIDS, prejudice against those suffering from it, and prejudice against gays. Both Hanks and Washington give strikingly emotional, profound performances that rank among the best in their respective careers - Hanks deservedly won both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for his portrayal of Beckett, but Washington unfairly wasn't even nominated for either. Yet, neither of them would have been able to shine as much as they do without their exceptional supporting cast; to name just two, Jason Robards, commanding as ever as Beckett's homophobic former boss (and role model!), and Antonio Banderas as his devoted lover.
By the time of "Philadelphia"'s release, some of the early myths about AIDS had begun to disappear, and the yearly growing numbers of newly infected patients had brought it out of its erstwhile obscurity as "the gay plague." But indepth knowledge was still far from widespread, and therefore the movie not only brought awareness to the disease in general, but also made a couple of important points, from educating the public about the disease's method of transmission to emphasizing that it is by no means limited to gays and can even be contracted in something as life-affirming as a blood transfusion. (Indeed, several European countries were rocked by transfusion-related AIDS scandals right around the time of the movie's release). One of "Philadelphia"'s most quietly powerful scenes is the testimony of a female witness who was infected by just such a transfusion, and who emphasizes that having AIDS is not a matter of sin or morality: "I don't consider myself any different from anyone else with this disease. I'm not guilty, I'm not innocent, I'm just trying to survive," she responds when asked to confirm that in her case "there was no behavior on [her] part" involved and contracting AIDS was something she was "unable to avoid." - Moreover, four years before Ellen DeGeneres rocked the showboat with a kiss during an episode of her sitcom, and Kevin Kline and Magnum macho Tom Selleck locked lips in "In and Out" (the screenplay of which was inspired by Hanks's Oscar acceptance speech for "Philadelphia"), it was by no means a given that a movie would get away with letting Hanks and Banderas exchange acts of tenderness from caresses and kisses on the hand to a slow dance at a gay party.
Given "Philadelphia"'s fundamental message and the memorable performances of its protagonists, it is a pity that the movie doesn't entirely avoid Hollywood pitfalls, such as its soggy ending with grease literally dripping off the screen and the undeniable taste of a sugar-coated afterthought, transmitting the message that even dying of AIDS is really not so terrible, at least for the surviving family who can still unite around the television set and wallow in their memories of their lost loved one. And while I do buy Joe Miller's transformation from a (somewhat stereotypical) homophobic male to a reluctant supporter of gay rights, I don't really see why Beckett suddenly assumes a cliche gay look the second he has been fired; not to mention that I suspect not everybody in his situation would have enjoyed such overwhelming support from his family.
But ultimately, it is the movie's overarching message that counts. "Ain't no angel gonna greet me; it's just you and I my friend ... and my clothes don't fit me no more: I walked a thousand miles just to slip this skin," sings Bruce Springsteen, the movie's other Oscar winner, in "Philadelphia"'s title song. And Justice Brennan wrote in the Supreme Court's Arline decision that in amending federal law, Congress was motivated by "discrimination stemming not only from simple prejudice, but also from archaic attitudes and laws." This movie goes a long way in dispelling such attitudes. It alone isn't enough - but it is, as Andrew Beckett jokes about the 1000 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean, a good start.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2005
When I first saw this film, I was very young and did not know hardly anything about homosexuality or aids. All I knew was that Tom Hanks was my best actor and I was touched emotionally. I watch it now and I forgot how powerful and serious the film is with its message. Tom Hanks pulls off a man coping with aids to a very high degree and teaming up with Denzel Washington as a homophobic. Denzel plays a lawyer in the film who is approached by Tom to help him win his lawsuit against the company who sacked him but has his insecurities towards the aids and homosexuality issues. Its very upsetting to see Tom Hanks struggle with his illness and you feel for all the characters. The main theme song provided by Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen really hits home. The acting is amazing and spot on from the duo and deserves its oscar award. This is a must see for everyone and has become an instant classic. Deserves to be in anyones collection. I promise you won't see anything like this with so much passion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2013
The plot is simple and the meaning is just as simple. But the film is not interesting so much because of this plot, but because of the high level of human contradictions and inhuman bigotry invested in every sequence of it.

A young brilliant and promising lawyer gets recruited by one important law firm in Philadelphia and within some years he is entrusted with one of the most important cases they have ever had in their hands. But within a few weeks he is purely and simply fired for incompetence. The logic of this extremely fast career and the swiftness with which it is broken is of course suspicious. The lawyer is gay and has aids.

The lawyer goes to court and all the lawyers he contacts to represent him refuse, including a friend of his, his tenth and last chance. But that's how America was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Afraid and fundamentally hostile to gay people in the name of anything that could justify their bigotry, and first of all their reading of the Bible.

The tenth lawyer finally accepts to represent him because of the Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prevents any kind of discrimination for any kind of handicap, provided the work required is done properly. They find some jurisprudence and one antecedent case in which a court accepted to consider AIDS as being such a physical condition that could be considered as a handicap and thus any hostile attitude or any attitude that will not treat such a person as any other is discrimination.

The plot is simple, I said, and the case is won with a hefty amount of damages, about 5 millions.

The film is very strong because the lawyer will have a final seizure in court and the trial will go on and come to an end in his absence. The sentence will be pronounced, him being still alive in hospital. They all, his family, his lawyer and some friends, convened in his room to celebrate the sentence but he will not survive this evening and will die in the night in the sole presence of his partner. The court decision will not be appealed because you cannot introduce a legal suit against a dead person. The trial became history and jurisprudence, common law as some call it.

The acting is of course essential and it is true at times the situations and the hatred of homophobic people make that acting iffy in many ways, skating on the thin ice of the civil war some would like to start to exterminate these agents of the devil gay people are accused of being. But the judge himself, at the end of the trial, when the boss of the law firm is testifying, seems to be becoming less tolerant with their antics and forces that boss to answer some very embarrassing questions, embarrassing for the law firm of course, like the treatment this lawyer and ten of his ship mates when he was in the navy submitted one gay sailor to. Too gross to even quote the script.

This film also made history because of its Best Actor Oscar. Public opinion in the USA started to turn in that period after the strict rejection of AIDS as the gay plague and hence, like all plagues since even before Moses, the punishment of God against sin, in this case against homosexuals. But starting only because in 1996 Bill Clinton managed to get the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in Congress. One of the most vicious and pernicious laws against gay people.

And only twenty years later (DOMA) was finally ruled unconstitutional at federal level by the US Supreme Court. Twenty long years of legal segregation at federal level. And only thirteen states so far have legalized gay marriage. The road is still long, even if thirteen states are enough to block any possible amendment to the US constitution that requires thirty-eight states to be ratified.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 August 2011
Andrew Beckett is a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, who in spite of being his law firm's rising star, is fired on a trumped up charge of negligence. Refusing to accept defeat, Andrew manages to enlist the help of homophobic lawyer Joe Miller, whom it's hoped, can prove that the firm acted disgracefully out of fear of Andrew's illness. But can Joe throw off his own prejudice? Can Andrew keep it together as AIDS starts to take a hold?

Philadelphia was the film to really bring the horrors of AIDS to the masses. Tho certainly not the first film to deal with the subject, films such as An Early Frost (1985) and As Is (1986) had led the way, Philadelphia is certainly the most memorable of all the mainstream films dealing with the subject.

As the years have rolled by, the film's standing has waned some what, gays have renounced the film as over sentimental gloop and various other cinema critics have accused the film of confusing its aims. The truth is that Philadelphia is only really guilty of playing it safe. Andrew Beckett is clearly wronged, and he's clearly a lovely and special man, supported by a complete and loyal loving family. It's the character set up that never really puts the film in any real danger of becoming edgy, even the strand dealing with homophobia is only briefly given credence. However, where the makers do achieve their aims, is with the emotional aspects, something that lifts Philadelphia to a far higher plain in the pantheon of emotional kickers.

The tone of the film is set courtesy of Bruce Springsteen's Oscar winning "Streets Of Philadelphia", which acts as a sombre portent of things to come during the opening credit sequence. From here on in the story is content with gnawing away at our heart strings and breaking down prejudice barriers in the name of fair play and adult fallibility's. Part court room drama and part human tragedy, Philadelphia is never found wanting in the engrossing department, something that is in no small amount due to the work of a firing on all cylinders cast.

Tom Hanks is always pretty safe company to be in as a rule, but tackling the role of Andrew Beckett required much more than merely charm and a homely appeal. Hanks, winning his first Best Actor Oscar, steps up to the plate here and delivers one of the best performances of the 90s. As AIDS ravages his body and soul, Hanks as Andrew reaches deep down within and has the audience with him all the way thru his ordeal. Alongside Hanks is Denzel Washington as Joe, who if anything has the more prickly role to contend with. It's probably not much of a surprise to most followers of his to say he's on his usual great form here, with a shift in his character's fortitude showcasing the best of the New Yorker's ability. Rounding out the cast, and with equally fine performances are Jason Robards, Joanne Woodward, Robert Ridgely, Mary Steenburgen and Antonio Banderas. Then as surely as Springsteen's opener had set the mood, Neil Young closes the film down with his own heart achingly brilliant "Philadelphia", playing alongside some video footage that finally seals the deal as to why Philadelphia as a movie exists.

Revists to the film show up its minor flaws, but as someone who remembers how he, and the other multi sexed audience reacted on leaving the cinema back in 1993, it's the kind of impact that to my mind can never be understated. 9/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2008
In his first Oscar winning role, Tom Hanks (Big) stars as Andrew Beckett, an upcoming lawyer who is fired from a prestigious law firm. Knowing that he was fired because he has aids, Beckett hires Joe Miller to represent him, and gain justice.

Hanks has been dazzling our screens for over 20 years now and his portrayal of an intelligent man who is suffering from aids has to be one of his finest to date. His role in Big was a challenge and a complete contrast to the type of character he plays in this 1993 drama, and come the end of the film, you will have really associated with Beckett, and will be close to weeping.

Hanks is helped along by an equally impressive performance by Washington (Glory) as Beckett's lawyer, who has his own personal issues to deal with.

The on screen pairing is excellent, and no other two actors could have created such a dramatic relationship and storyline, which was essential to drive the issue of homosexuality to the audience's attention.

Set at a time of gay prejudice, Philadelphia grabs hold of the issue and shows audiences how sexual orientation affects everyone, your colleagues and your friends, and does so in a controversial fashion.

The script is excellent, and the idea of homosexuality being difficult is driven by Hanks, and the effects of aids and being gay are very powerful and dramatic in the context of this film, making Philadelphia a very thought provoking drama.

This film is a true testament to standing up for your beliefs and gaining justice for what you believe in and the context of the situation is exceptionally powerful.

After seeing this film, I was shocked to believe that these issues ever took place in the work place, and other people had such thoughts about sexual orientation.

Bruce Springsteen's Oscar winning "Streets of Philadelphia" truly sets the tone for the film and will gear you up for one of the most controversial and thought provoking films of the 1990's.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2003
This is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. In an ordinary film, you may have tears falling down your face, but this, wow, I was crying as if somebody I knew had died. This film is amazing. It's so lovely to see the relationship between Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington's characters blossom into a relationship that doesn't have an inch of prejudice in it by the end. If you've ever been prejudice to anyone, this will make you want to up to them, hug them and say how sorry you are. Tom Hanks is fantastic, you get to know him and feel for him, because somehow, I was dragged into being him, so you feel like he does. Strange, but this film is one not to miss!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2004
This film is great. It tells of a story about andrew Beckett (Hanks) who gets fired from his firm for having AIDS, despite Becckett being a great lawyer. So he decides to sew his old firm. In this process he eventually ends up at Joe miller's door(Washington). Miller is a well known lawyer advertised on Tv alot. Despite what we want to happen, Miller turns him down mostly because he is gay. However, a few days later Miller sees the way Andy gets treated when at the library looking up on gay rights and AIDS. So Miller decides to help Andy in his pursuit to get justice over his firm.
What follows after this is a remarkable battle with peoples opinions about the illness and a remarkable final ten minutes which evokes a response of sadness and then joy at the final outcome. What the viewer will take from this film is a scence of justce being served. The viewer will also see just how fragile human life is. This film is a one of a kind, star plot, star cast and an incredible soundtrack. U should have this film tucked away neatly at home along with the soundtrack. Thanks for readin'
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