Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Tom Hanks
Denzel Washington
Mary Steenburgen
Antonio Banderas.
Directors
Jonathan Demme.
Screenwriters
Ron Nyswaner.
Running Time
125 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Honeymoon
3 Star Empire Rating
Last Impresario, The
3 Star Empire Rating
I Origins
4 Star Empire Rating
Soul Boys Of The Western World
4 Star Empire Rating
What We Did On Our Holiday
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating

Philadelphia
Breakthrough gay rights film which won Hanks his first Oscar


submit to reddit


Plot
Andrew Beckett a lawyer with a prestigious, conservative law firm, is fired after he develops AIDS, the company fearing he would be a health risk. Angry and wanting some justice before he dies, he hires a homophobic former adversary, to sue his firm for unfair dismissal.


Review
The first major Hollywood film with a gay rights theme, this is, inevitably, determinedly mainstream. In its appeal to the emotions, its showy dramatic role for Hanks and its purposeful courtroom fireworks between Washington and pitiless opposing trial lawyer Mary Steenburgen, it is conservatively designed to provide a general audience with something tasteful to chew on.

Always good company, the personable Hanks dons convincing cosmetic lesions and bravely wastes away before our eyes as AIDS victim Andrew Beckett, a going-down-fighting lawyer who is determined to have his day in court, exposing the prejudices and discriminatory practices of the prestigious law firm that fired him. Washington has the thornier role as the homophobic attorney who reluctantly presses his former adversary's lawsuit, alive to the personal significance of the issue despite his butchly over-emphatic aversion to homosexuals.

Part courtroom drama, the narrative engages one's sympathies and slyly grips with a falsely laid trail of tension: will head of the firm Jason Robards be goaded into doing a Jack Nicholson on the stand? Will the firm associate, whose conscience is clearly bothering him, break down or come out? More surprisingly, given director Demme's satirical bent and his usual shunning of sentimentality, this is also, in part, reminiscent of a disease of the week TV movie with the attendant mush portions that implies, as Hanks is cheered on by a Too Good To Be True support system of devoted lover Miguel (Antonio Banderas), indomitable mother (Joanne Woodward) and a Walton-like pack of kinfolk, supporting their relative to the teary end.

One suspects that those most personally and angrily concerned by the subject matter will be dissatisfied by the "If Only" niceness on display and the timidity with which Andy's relationship with Miguel and his lifestyle is (barely) drawn. But that's another movie. This one comes down — quite successfully — to a touching demand for fraternity and justice, and is at its most powerful when Andrew, like a rape victim put on the defensive, is subjected to an appealing ordeal on the stand, an intrusion into privacy aimed to shame him as a "deviant", and in its undeniably groundbreaking attempt to explore men's fearful and belligerent attitudes to their own sexuality


Verdict
For all its weaker aspects, it is to be recommended as a denunciation of intolerence made with understanding, compassion, and some humour.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo


Related Reviews
Sounds
Philadelphia
 

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Philadelphia
Empire Star Rating

Highly pretentious and with poorly written, too-good-to-be-true characters. One of Tom Hanks' weaker performances. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheNapalmKid at 08:47, 24 October 2009 | Report This Post


Highly pretentious and with poorly written, too-good-to-be-true characters. One of Tom Hanks' weaker performances. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheNapalmKid at 08:47, 24 October 2009 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: The Streaming Services Will Be Major Studios
(Or how Hollywood will have to start worrying about Netflix)

The Empire Podcast #129: Liam Neeson Interview
Plus Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Brown Findlay drop by to talk The Riot Club

The Future Of Film: We'll Be Watching Films In Virtual Reality
Immerse cinema aims to become the must-have experience for the filmgoers of the future

The Future Of Film: Cinema Will Cross The Uncanny Valley
The future of VFX, from believable digital humans to underwater mocap

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)