Philadelphia

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Hollywood's first major movie about AIDS is, at the very least, as good as we had any right to expect. The plot is simple: Andrew Beckett (Hanks), a gay lawyer with AIDS, is fired for 'incompetence' and sues his bosses, hiring a homophobic attorney (Washington) to represent him. Less a portrait of gay life or the effects of AIDS, the story serves as a framework to examine associated issues. Why do Beckett's bosses sack him and not a woman employee with AIDS? Should people with fatal or contagious diseases tell their employers about their condition? Is there any occasion when we don't have the right to remain silent about our sexuality? Such questions constitute the film's backbone. More importantly, most of the 'big' emotional scenes we'd expect to see are omitted. Thus, we never feel we're being manipulated into shedding easy tears. The movie is defined by a tone of quiet restraint. Safe and apolitical it may be, but Philadelphia succeeds as a deeply affecting humanist drama.

Release details

Duration: 125 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jonathan Demme
Screenwriter: Alice Hoffman, Ron Nyswaner
Cast: Tom Hanks
Denzel Washington
Jason Robards
Mary Steenburgen
Antonio Banderas
Ron Vawter
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