Philadelphia is the story of Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a senior associate at Philadelphia’s largest law firm, who is an HIV-positive gay man, but has revealed neither his condition nor his sexuality to his co-workers. During the filing of one complaint, one of his co-workers notices a lesion on Beckett’s forehead. Soon after, Beckett suffers from terrible symptoms of his illness and is forced to take a few days at home, asking an assistant to finish filing the complaint.
When he comes back to the work, the complaint has mysteriously disappeared, and although he’s able to still finally discover and file it at the last minute, the firm fires him the next day, questioning his professionalism.
Beckett decides to take them to court for wrongful dismissal, but has a hard time finding a lawyer to take the case. One attorney he asks, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), also initially declines, but after asking a doctor more about HIV and witnessing the way that strangers treat Beckett with knowledge of his condition, decides to take the case. Through a long trial, Beckett and Miller ultimately win, with Beckett being hospitalized during the final stage of the procedures. After hearing the verdict and having a moment of farewell with his family and lover, Beckett passes away.
“Jonathan Demme’s long-awaited Philadelphia is so expertly acted, well-meaning and gutsy that you find yourself constantly pulling for it to be the definitive AIDS movie.”
— Christopher Matthews, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“The story is timely and powerful, and the performances of Hanks and Washington assure that the characters will not immediately vanish into obscurity.”
— James Berardinelli, ReelViews
“It’s less like a film by Demme than the best of Frank Capra. It is not just canny, corny and blatantly patriotic, but compassionate, compelling and emotionally devastating.”
— Rita Kempley, Washington Post
Did You Know?
Philadelphia was the first major Hollywood film to tackle issues of homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic in a realistic way. The director purposefully asked Bruce Springsteen to make the main song for this film in an effort to try to get more people who don’t know much about AIDS to be more comfortable with viewing the film, and to raise awareness overall. Review our Gay Themed Films Here