TriStar Pictures | Release Date: December 23, 1993
7.7
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Generally favorable reviews based on 130 Ratings
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4
CritiqueGirlMar 2, 2011
This movie was the beginning of the end for me going to the movies regularly. For such a serious drama it sure didn't make sense in that the ACLU didn't take the case. Please. With Tom Hanks in the witness chair I was saying to myself,This movie was the beginning of the end for me going to the movies regularly. For such a serious drama it sure didn't make sense in that the ACLU didn't take the case. Please. With Tom Hanks in the witness chair I was saying to myself, "Just have him show the lesions." And so it happened. I hate knowing what will happen or what should happen. When the lights came up in the theater, everyone was sitting their silently and looking at one another puzzled and they were no doubt saying to one another what we were: "That movie stunk. Who said it was any good. It didn't make sense." And we are from Philadelphia. Not that the title had anything to do with the movie except it was set in Philadelphia. Over the years my movie going has tapered off to the point that I can go years without going to the movies. Then I go and never want to go again. Expand
1 of 3 users found this helpful12
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6
ERG1008Sep 3, 2010
Successful Lawyer contracts AIDS, his company then fire him for other reasons but an unfair dismissal claim brings out the truth.
Well, I was a little disappointed with the film in general. Thought it should have had more background on
Successful Lawyer contracts AIDS, his company then fire him for other reasons but an unfair dismissal claim brings out the truth.
Well, I was a little disappointed with the film in general. Thought it should have had more background on Beckett so you got to know the character better. Instead it rushed along then straight to the old tearjerker ending, complete with video footage as a kid, etc.
Denzel Washington stood out however with a great performance as Joe Miller.
I agree with the people who says that Hanks' character was "underwritten & incomplete".
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0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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5
TonyB.Jul 1, 2008
Generally well-paced and extremely well-acted but intellectually and emotionally dishonest.
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6
Tss5078Aug 3, 2014
Philadelphia will always hold a place in cinematic history, as it is the first major film to really address the discrimination against Aids and Homosexuality. It also was the beginning of Tom Hanks amazing run of Academy nominated film, thatPhiladelphia will always hold a place in cinematic history, as it is the first major film to really address the discrimination against Aids and Homosexuality. It also was the beginning of Tom Hanks amazing run of Academy nominated film, that may never be duplicated. The message of the film comes across loud and clear, but not quite in the way that the film's producers intended. Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) was a top attorney with one of Philadelphia's top law firms, when all of a sudden he's fired. Beckett believes he was set up and fired because he has Aids, but can he prove it in court? As the film goes, it is easy to see the discrimination and stereotypes that Beckett has to face on a daily basis, and weather or not you accept homosexuality, it's powerful ending will make you feel for the plight of any homosexual who suffers from this horrible disease. The majority of this film takes place in the courtroom and centers around Beckett's case against his former employer, and as someone who has studied the law, I can tell you that the case destroyed the merits of this film. There are things that both sides do, that would never be allowed in a court of law, and in my opinion neither side really makes it's case. As far as the legal aspect of this trial goes, it is very subjective and would never lead to the verdict that was handed down. As for the stars of this film, they are the ones that make it as powerful as it was. Hanks gives a performance that was absolutely worthy of the best actor award, as following him and his story is really what gave the film it's reputation. Quite ingeniously, Hanks is paired with Denzel Washington, who plays his attorney. Washington's character is meant to represent how much of the audience felt at that time, as even while representing Beckett, he speaks out about Aids and Homosexuality. The more he works to represent Beckett, the more you can see his attitude change, the same way the audiences attitudes change as the film moves alone. I loved Philadelphia for it's performances and it's message, but as far as the story goes, the trial is the majority of the film, and the trial is completely unbelievable. In my opinion the trial takes away much of the film credibility. The issue and the case should have been more clear cut and the legality of it all should have been easier for the audience to understand. That being said, if you choose to watch this film, you will be hard pressed to find better performances by a better cast, but the story will leave you feeling somewhat incomplete. Expand
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6
SpangleNov 19, 2016
After catching flack for his portrayal of transsexuals in The Silence of the Lambs (still my favorite film), director Jonathan Demme returned two years later with Philadelphia. An urgent and deeply important film about raising awareness toAfter catching flack for his portrayal of transsexuals in The Silence of the Lambs (still my favorite film), director Jonathan Demme returned two years later with Philadelphia. An urgent and deeply important film about raising awareness to individuals suffering from AIDS and pulling back the stigma surrounding the illness, Philadelphia is an often powerful film for this very reason. Yet, make no mistake, this film is hardly a full-throated endorsement of gay rights by Demme. Rather, it is a step. It is a step towards acceptance of the lifestyle, as the film essentially argues that it is not unnatural to be gay, nor is it something to be looked down upon. Homosexuals are people like anybody else and deserve to be treated as such, even if you do not approve of their lifestyle. As of 2016, we have obviously come much further with gay rights, but for 1993, Philadelphia was practically a revelation. In spite of its previous timeliness, however, Philadelphia is a largely predictable and typical courtroom drama that rides on great acting to really accomplish anything whatsoever.

As with all courtroom dramas, Philadelphia's conclusion is clear from the beginning. If you do not know that Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) will win the case, then you have never seen a courtroom film before. As such, reaching the conclusion is inherently tedious when rarely (if ever?) has a courtroom film ended up by reversing the cliche. The protagonists win and the antagonists lose. End story. Thus, while the film spends a lot of time in the courtroom, this only hurts the end product. The drama is outside of the court, not inside of it and, often, Demme loses sight of this in the film. After a certain point, he just settles into showing us testimony and the prejudiced beliefs of those around him in the office and that was why he was fired. While it was a wrongful termination, the film scores no dramatic points for this.

Also hindering the film is the opening. Slow and meandering, the film really never hits its emotional stride until after Andrew meets with Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). In the opening, Hanks' acting is spotty at best and the film is largely just an introduction to his illness and his life as a whole. While these moments are effectively told, they are simply never that intriguing, as it is merely the foundation of the case which, again, is never that interesting.

However, once that meeting between Andrew and Joe does happen, Philadelphia hits its stride quite solidly. Here, we find Andrew - a gay man suffering from AIDS - opening up the worldview of his lawyer, Joe Miller. Deeply anti-gay and bigoted, Joe has a violent hatred for homosexuals and finds their lifestyle deeply disgusting. Once he meets Andrew, however, his world begins to change and he sees gays completely differently. In many ways, Joe is intended to mirror the audience in 1993 who, entering the film with extreme prejudice, wind up leaving with an understanding and compassion for gays worldwide. While they may not fully accept them yet, there is no longer that hatred, which is an important hurdle to cross. To be clear, Joe does not like gays or understand them by the end of the film, but he is more accepting of their lifestyle and no longer carries the weight of hatred he once held.

Denzel Washington brings Joe to life brilliantly, from the man filled with vile hatred to the man who learns compassion from his encounters with Andrew. Meanwhile, Hanks brilliant as Andrew Beckett. Though initially spotty, once the disease begins ravishing Andrew, Hanks really begins to shine. He compassionately brings to light the suffering experienced by AIDS patients and does a terrific job capturing this pain and torment. This is where Demme's film is so truly important, as it humanizes the suffering and does not make it appear other. It shows the suffering of AIDS patients to be no different than anybody else's suffering. They may be gay, but that is okay and it is not a reason for them to suffer, which was previously a belief held by many. The film does not spare us the gory details of the toll AIDS has on the body and, for this, it makes it far more intimate and hits close to home for everybody in the audience.

Philadelphia is a slight and cliche film about an important topic, which is really unfortunate. Though Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks are terrific in the film, Philadelphia never diverts from courtroom drama cliches enough to really breathe life into the film. Yet, what does breathe some life into the film is Demme's sensitive handling of a very timely and vitally crucial issue: the AIDS epidemic. Bringing to light the suffering of those with AIDS, Philadelphia manages to play an important role in raising awareness to the issue of gay rights in America.
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