Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Philadelphia; Drama, USA, 1993; D: Jonathan Demme, S: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Antonio Banderas, Joanne Woodward, Roberta Maxwell, Buzz Kilman, Karen Finley, Paul Lazar, Mary Steenburgen
Philadelphia. Successful lawyer Andrew Beckett wins another case and gets promoted, yet he hides that he is gay since his boss Jason is rather homophobic. When it is discovered he has AIDS he unjustifiably gets fired from work and thus decides to sue his company for discrimination. Lawyer Miller at first refuses to represent him at court, but then he changes his mind and they win the case. Soon after Andrew dies and his family mourns him.
"Philadelphia" drew a considerable attention since it was the first big budget Hollywood film that tackled the taboo subject of AIDS and gay discrimination, which is a welcomed and refreshingly open approach that needed to be made, thus it all resulted in Tom Hanks' excellent role that won him both an Oscar and a Golden Globe as best actor. Even though the theme could have been easily handled by some episode in any given TV court show, director Jonathan Demme directed the film in a sufficiently solid way, managing to keep it interesting for the whole two hours, and there were even a few moments of dignity added, like the one when the library supervisor offers the visibly sick hero Andrew a special private room in order for him not to feel uncomfortable in the public. However, by today's standards the film doesn't seem that brave anymore, but rather normal, and Hanks plays the typical "scapegoat of the world" role that is always dead set to win an Oscar, and much less to build a multi-layered film around it, while as a whole "Philadelphia" turned out slightly preachy, pathetic, painful and rustic, while a little more intelligent approach wouldn't have hurt. It's a movie of quality, but in 1993 Neeson's role in "Schindler's List" and Murray's in "Groundhog Day" had more layers to them.