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.