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Philadelphia (1993)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 181,313

My Rating

Movie Info

At the time of its release, Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia was the first big-budget Hollywood film to tackle the medical, political, and social issues of AIDS. Tom Hanks, in his first Academy Award-winning performance, plays Andrew Beckett, a talented lawyer at a stodgy Philadelphia law firm. The homosexual Andrew has contracted AIDS but fears informing his firm about the disease. The firm's senior partner, Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards), assigns Andrew a case involving their most important



Ron Nyswaner

Sep 9, 1997

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (11) | DVD (15)

[An] extremely well-made message picture about tolerance, justice and discrimination is pitched at mainstream audiences, befitting its position as the first major Hollywood film to directly tackle the disease.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Safe and apolitical it may be, but Philadelphia succeeds as a deeply affecting humanist drama.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Philadelphia" mostly succeeds in being forceful, impassioned and moving, sometimes even rising to the full range of emotion that its subject warrants. But too often, even at its most assertive, it works in safely predictable ways.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's less like a film by Demme than the best of Frank Capra. It is not just canny, corny and blatantly patriotic, but compassionate, compelling and emotionally devastating.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story is timely and powerful, and the performances of Hanks and Washington assure that the characters will not immediately vanish into obscurity.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This AIDS courtroom drama is so pumped full of nitrous oxide, you could get your teeth drilled on it.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comment (1)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What remains most striking about Philadelphia may be the...conspicuous emphasis on intense close-ups. They force an inescapable emotional intimacy in relation to issues the mainstream, at least at the time, would rather have looked away from. [Blu-ray]

May 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Moving, Oscared '90s drama fostered AIDS empathy.

December 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Wearing its heart on its sleeves, this well-intentioned but soft and compromised AIDS drama may nonetheless perform the same function that Paltoon or Schindler's List have: Change public opinion about an urgent problem.

April 21, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

The courtroom stuff is unwieldly, but everything else is brave and moving.

October 25, 2005
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

involving but badly cliched

August 26, 2005
Shadows on the Wall

In the guise of piety, Philadelphia panders to a perceived straight-male majority.

November 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Being under the PC microscope transforms Demme into the bastard offspring of Stanley Kramer and Norman Lear

October 25, 2004
Film Freak Central

Manages to be humorous and moving without being too preachy or heavy-handed.

January 5, 2004 Full Review Source:

Excellent performances and the sensitive handling of complicated issues.

July 14, 2003

Can't a movie make us feel sympathy for a gay character without having him die and spout opera cliches?

December 13, 2002
New Times

Hollywood's effort to say Something Really Important about AIDS turns out to be a timid, gutless joke.

November 1, 2002
Flipside Movie Emporium

Conveys the hornet's nest of ignorance, prejudice, half-truths and devastating lies connected with AIDS.

August 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Overrated, but well intended. Intentions are not enough

August 14, 2002 | Comment (1)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Arguably, the horror of death from Aids has been sanitized for popular consumption, but nevertheless it is a brave and commendable effort.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source:

Phildelphia is a good idea, just not a particularly good film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Philadelphia

"The first movie about homophobia and AIDS, and still one of the most poignant."

Any movie set in Pennsylvania is special to me in one way or another. There arenâ(TM)t many (not compared to the countless movies that do exist), so I find state pride in movies like Groundhog Day, The Sixth Sense, and last yearâ(TM)s Silver Linings Playbook. Either that or Iâ(TM)m just glad to know that the state I live in actually exists, now and then. Regardless, Philadelphia automatically has a piece of my heart, just because its title is accurate. But itâ(TM)s also special to me in a way it might be special to anyone outside of PA: the emotional level of this courtroom drama isnâ(TM)t just set to match the emotional level found on the victimâ(TM)s side of the crime.
November 22, 2013

Super Reviewer

One of the first films to deal with such delicate matters like AIDS, homossexuality and tolerance at the time of its release. Although not altogether memorable, this is a very praisable effort that boasts some great performances and proves to be a deeply touching experience.
July 23, 2013

Super Reviewer

Upon its release, this was a very important and groundbreaking film since it was the first major Hollywood effort to deal with the medical, social, and political issues of AIDS.

The story revolves around lawyer Andrew Beckett who is fired (he is told) for incompetence. He thinks the real reasons he is fired is because he is gay, but more importantly, because he is dying of AIDS. He feels an injustice has been done, so he teams up with an ACLU lawyer to take his former employers to court.

Tom Hanks won his first of two consecutive Oscars with this role as Andy Beckett, and yeah, he is wonderful. He gives a moving and sensitive performance- really highlighting what it is like to experience the stigmas surrounding the AIDS virus, especially at that time. As his lawyer, Denzel Washington is also top notch. I like how Washington's Joe Miller openly admits his dislike of homosexuals, but comes around when he realizes that Beckett really was unjustly let go.

The film's primarily a courtroom drama, but it's not nearly as gripping as something like A Few Good Men. I appreciate the way the film handles the subject matter, but I can't help but feel it gets a bit too heavy handed, preachy, and pretentious at times, though thankfully it's largely nuanced for a lot of it.

If going solely by the acting, this would get at least 4.5 stars, but as an overall experience I think 4 is pretty fair. It is an important work, but I think it's a bit rough around the edges, being groundbreaking and whatnot. All in all though, I do recommend it, because it is very affecting and touching.
March 1, 2013
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Sarah Beckett: I didn't raise my children to sit at the back of the bus.
    – Submitted by Sam H (2 years ago)
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