If you can’t tell by my witty blog post title (shame on you), I am referring to a Tom Hanks film; Philadelphia, to be precise. Made in 1993, this drama depicts a young lawyer who is fired from a prestigious law firm. I hadn’t actually seen this film until recently and I can’t believe it took me so long!
Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a sharp, quick-witted lawyer working at a top firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Right away we learn that Andrew is dealing with AIDS. He is managing it as best he can with the help of very supportive friends and family, but made the choice to keep it a secret from his employers.
Early into the narrative, Andrew’s condition starts to worsen. At first he takes sick days, in the hope that his condition will stabilize soon, while he works from home. In an attempt to hide some of his facial lesions, he enlists the aid of his friends to use makeup to hide the blemishes. Andrew needs more professional cosmetologist friends, for the record. They paint him a lovely shade of tequila sunrise-orange…it does not help.
When Andrew finally feels well enough to head back into work he is called in to a meeting with the partners of the firm and is suddenly out of a job. The partners try to blame it on his supposed poor work performance and such, but Andrew knows it is because he is infected with HIV. The snide looks and off-handed remarks on his “limited future” leave little to interpretation. So he goes in search of an attorney to help him win a wrongful termination lawsuit.
He is turned down several times, but eventually a reluctant young lawyer by the name of Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) accepts the case. Joe is a bit of a homophobic and is doubtful that theirs is a winnable case at first, but he remains open-minded. As he gets to know Andrew his prejudices melt away and he realizes that not only has Andrew been discriminated against by his employers, but this is likely to be a groundbreaking case.
The trial is long and arduous, eye-opening and sometimes humiliating, but Andrew and Joe don’t flinch and they don’t back down. After weeks of this the case finally goes to vote and the jury rules in favor of Andrew and Joe, but not before Andrew’s condition takes a sharp decline and he is rushed to the hospital.
Even on his deathbed, Andrew is still the determined-yet-calm young lawyer who so bravely fought for equality. His passing leaves a void in the lives of his loved ones but there is solace in the fact that he is finally at peace.
I was honestly moved by this film. It is truly an insightful look into the prejudices of the modern era, and the acting, in my humble and very unprofessional opinion, is superb. It’s true that the occasional ‘snarky’ line still found its way into my post, but I really have nothing bad to say about this film. Well, except…come on, Andrew’s friends, did you really think that orangey makeup was going to help? Until next time.
Philadelphia, 1993, Rated PG-13
Starring Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Written by Ron Nyswaner
Watch Philadelphia on ThisTV!
Thursday April 17th at 7:00 p.m.