Philadelphia is a 1993 court-room drama directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
The film tells the story of a homosexual lawyer Andrew Beckett (played by Tom Hanks) who after upon discovering that he has aids, is fired from the law firm after making a terrible mistake. However, we soon discover that this mistake was actually orchestrated by one of his colleagues since he has aids and was fired because of it. Andrew then enlists the help of another lawyer to represent him, Joe Miller (portrayed by Denzel Washington) and together the two battle against the Law firm in court so that justice is done.
The direction by Jonathan Demme who also directed The Silence of the Lambs is fantastic. The shots are perfection and the angles are perfectly well thought-out. The cinematography is also really beautiful to look at and the streets of Philadelphia are filled with life.
The film is incredibly well-written. The scenes at court are filled with great tension and conflict that are gripping and filled with great and emotional scenes.
The acting is also incredible. Philadelphia is Tom Hanks’s first dramatic role. Before this film, Tom Hanks was known as a comedic actor, appearing in such films like The Money Pit, Dragnet, The Burbs and Big. Philadelphia also earned him his first and well deserved Oscar win. Tom Hanks gives a great performance here. He’s sympathetic, honest and subtle and feels like a real man who is suffering from aids and doesn’t oversell it. You feel for Andrew as a viewer and want him to win the trial.
Denzel Washington is also fantastic as the lawyer who represents Tom Hanks. At first he is homophobic and doesn’t believe that Tom Hanks’s character has a case, but eventually he decides to help him and the two become even become friends. It was great to see his character grow and his evolution.
Interestingly enough, Philadelphia was the first big-budget and big star name to tackle the subject of aids and gave a more realistic and respectful approach to homosexuals and lesbians. It’s surprising that Hollywood took this long to make a film like this.
Also, the song called “Streets of Philadelphia” that plays in the beginning of the film from Bruce Springsteen is amazing and without a doubt deserved the Oscar for best song.
There are a few issues that I had with the film and one of them is the length. It could have been easily fifteen to twenty minutes shorter and the court scenes sometimes feel a bit drawn out.
Overall, Philadelphia is a gripping court-room drama that gave Tom Hanks his first and well-deserved Oscar-Win and is a heart-warming, touching and poignant film about one man’s fight for justice.