JONATHAN DEMME | USA | ENGLISH | 1993 | 125 MIN
Widely considered the first mainstream film to tackle the topic of AIDS, Jonathan Demme’s courtroom drama is a moving look at one man’s fight for justice in the face of bigotry and intolerance.
Inspired by a real court case, PHILADELPHIA follows Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a hotshot, closeted lawyer whose career ambitions are derailed when his firm’s partners learn of his AIDS diagnosis. Andrew files a wrongful termination suit, and seeks the assistance of Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a talented personal injury lawyer who harbors some ugly prejudices of his own. Hanks took home a much-deserved Oscar for the role of Andrew, who fights to maintain his courage and stoicism even as his body begins to fail him. And Washington is equally strong as a man whose homophobia gradually gives way to genuine empathy and understanding. Following the runaway success of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, PHILADELPHIA truly cemented Demme’s status as one of Hollywood’s most dependable directors, delivering earnest, heartrending entertainment in the spirit of Frank Capra. Yet the film is still holds those left-field touches that made him such an unpredictable cinematic force, like the famous scene in which Andrew enters into a delirious reverie while listening to a Maria Callas aria. It’s a powerful tribute to Demme’s talent for twisting Hollywood conventions into work that is artful, eye opening, and profoundly humane.
CAST: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen
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