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Philadelphia

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The movie Philadelphia, written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Jonathan Demme, is a movie based on the true story about lawyer Geoffrey Bowers. In the movie, the main character recreating the role of Geoffrey Bowers, was a man named Andrew Beckett. The story was about a lawyer in the late 1980s, who - after getting the fatal disease of AIDS - gets fired from the law firm he worked at and hires a lawyer to pursue a case against this unjust law firm for being discriminative towards Andrew. This movie was the first major film to discuss the topic of AIDS. Ironically, the case of Geoffrey Bowers was one of the first AIDS discrimination cases to be fought.

Philadelphia came out in the year 1993 and at the time, AIDS was an extremely controversial and unspoken topic. It depicts the life of Andrew Beckett (played by Tom Hanks), a very successful lawyer, who is diagnosed with AIDS. After being diagnosed, it starts to wear on him, and eventually his skin lesions start to become visible. Coincidentally, after the visibility of these lesions, he is told that his work was just “satisfactory” and ended up being fired from his law firm. He felt like the reason for being dismissed from his job was bogus and unfair. Beckett decides to file a lawsuit against his former bosses for firing him because he had AIDS. He hires homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), to argue his case for him. Throughout the case, Miller becomes more sympathetic and receptive to the idea of homosexuality and is able to argue with all he has for Beckett’s case, as Beckett becomes more and more sick. In the end , Miller’s efforts are successful, as the law firm must pay Beckett millions in back pay and damages. Unfortunately, Beckett barely makes it to the end of the case and dies shortly after.

The movie closely captures the story of Geoffrey Bowers and his struggle to fight against the discrimination of people with AIDS. At the time, the AIDS epidemic spread all over, as deaths from this disease increased, so did the awareness of the disease. Many people felt strongly against the disease because of its prominent presence in the homosexual community, as also shown in the movie. So many of the general public were repulsed by it and the people who had AIDS, that some went as far as not wanting to be in the presence of a carrier. As disturbing and sad as this movie is, it was a milestone in the movie-making industry, by showing the reality and depth of the AIDS outbreak and discriminations that went along with it.

Tom Hanks does a magnificent job in the role of Andrew Beckett. He puts the right emotions in for him at the perfect times, such as when he was in the courtroom, he was up at the podium to be questioned, you can really feel the agony and pain in him and it feels as if you personally were there sitting in the courtroom, watching him go through this traumatic period in his life. Also, Denzel Washington does a fabulous job being the homophobic lawyer taking on Andrew’s case. You can see the changes throughout the views of Joe Miller, starting off with the intense hatred and disgust he shows for Andrew when he first speaks with him, and ending with the winning side in the case, as well as a close friend of Andrew, showing compassion and sympathy for him. Both did a wonderful job playing such extreme roles in this film. Although the movie was excellent in many aspects, it did lack in showing the relationship between Andrew and his domestic partner, Miguel Alvarez (Antonio Banderas), so much so that it barely felt real, which made the movie lack in some emotional aspects.

Overall, Philadelphia was an exceptional movie that depicted amazingly how homosexuality and AIDS were viewed in the 1980s. Demme did an outstanding job in leaving the audience feeling a sense of victory due to the outcome of the case, in favor of Beckett, as well as a feeling of sorrow and mourn for the death of Beckett at the very end. The 125 minutes of this movie were a perfect mixture of suspense, controversy, and emotions. There’s even a good possibility that you may shed a tear towards the end. This movie is excellent and definitely a “must-see” movie for someone who likes serious, captivating movies.





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