Cert: 12 Runtime: 125 mins Director: Jonathan Demme Cast: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Roberta Maxwell
Some of these people make me sick. But a law’s been broken here. You do remember the law, don’t you?
Tom Hanks returns to the big screen this month with Captain Phillips, it got me thinking of some of his films. I don’t know if people tend to forget Philadelphia? He won an Oscar for it for the love of crackers. What is Philadelphia? Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, is fired from his conservative law firm in fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for peace, he sues his former law firm with the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). During the court battle, Miller sees that Beckett is no different than anyone else on the gritty streets of the city of brotherly love, sheds his homophobia and helps Beckett with his case before AIDS overcomes him.Philadelphia is an emotionally moving story, and Hanks and Washington deliver tenfold in their conflicting roles. Watching their relationship mature throughout the film is a heart wrenching delight for the audience. Because of these two immaculate characters, who seem to be completely opposite but are actually very similar, the film serves as a fantastic emotional treat. The story is rich with moral debate that deals with human nature and our prejudices against those who are different.The law firm that Beckett is fired from claims that they fired him for his incompetence and inability to act accordingly and to the best of his ability. But Beckett firmly believes that it is a deep seated bigotry that got him fired when the managers of the firm found out he had the deadly AIDS virus.
This film beautifully raises awareness against prejudice and discrimination and makes a wonderful social statement that needs to be heard. And it is all done by the excellent and believably heartfelt performances from Hanks and Washington.The acting and social statements are the driving force behind Philadelphia. Most other aspects take a relative backseat to the important message brought up in this film. The direction and cinematography of this film seems odd at times and for some reason the director has an obsession with close ups. Hanks and Washington drive the character development of this film and the supporting cast, albeit necessary, don’t seem to have the same richness and prevalence as the two leads. I said this is an emotional film, and it is, despite there being a few scenes that seem forced and only established for the purpose of having emotion, almost giving the feeling of force fed emotion. All of these are minor complaints that do not undermined the true integrity of this fine film.Philadelphia is a beautiful film that will be relevant for a long time to come. It has a strong heart that emanates an important message about discrimination and human rights. A great watch, if only for the fantastic performances and the strong ideals.