Critics Consensus

Philadelphia indulges in some unfortunate clichés in its quest to impart a meaningful message, but its stellar cast and sensitive direction are more than enough to compensate.



Total Count: 54


Audience Score

User Ratings: 183,204
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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 client. Andrew begins diligently working on the case, but soon the lesions associated with AIDS are visible on his face. Wheeler abruptly removes Andrew from the case and fires him from the firm. Andrew believes he has been fired because of his illness and plans to fight the firm in court. But because of the firm's reputation, no lawyer in Philadelphia will risk handling his case. In desperation, Andrew hires Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a black lawyer who advertises on television, mainly handling personal injury cases. Miller dislikes homosexuals but agrees to take the case for the money and exposure. As Miller prepares for the courtroom battle against one of the law firm's key litigators, Belinda Conine (Mary Steenburgen), Miller begins to realize the discrimination practiced against Andrew is no different from the discrimination Miller himself has to battle against. The cast also includes Antonio Banderas as Andrew's partner, Joanne Woodward as Andrew's mother, and Stephanie Roth as Joe's wife. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi


Tom Hanks
as Andrew Beckett
Antonio Banderas
as Miguel Alvarez
Jason Robards
as Charles Wheeler
Mary Steenburgen
as Belinda Conine
Ron Vawter
as Seidman
Joanne Woodward
as Sarah Beckett
Robert Ridgely
as Walter Kenton
Paul Lazar
as Dr Klenstein
Bradley Whitford
as Jamey Collins
Tracey Walter
as Librarian
John Bedford Lloyd
as Matt Beckett
Andre B. Blake
as Young Man in Pharmacy
Robert W. Castle
as Bud Beckett
Daniel Chapman
as Clinic Storyteller
Molly Hickok
as Molly Beckett
Dan Olmstead
as Randy Beckett
Ann Dowd
as Jill Beckett
Elizabeth Roby
as Elizabeth Beckett
Obba Babatundé
as Jerome Green
Charles Napier
as Judge Garnett
Roger Corman
as Mr. Laird
Charles Glenn
as Kenneth Killcoyne
Roberta Maxwell
as Judge Tate
Buzz Kilman
as `Crutches'
Karen Finley
as Dr. Gillman
Anna Deavere Smith
as Anthea Burton
Warren Miller
as Mr. Finley
Stephanie Roth
as Rachel Smilow
Dodie Demme
as Jury Member
Kenneth Utt
as Jury Member
James B. Howard
as Dexter Smith
Charles Techman
as Ralph Peterson
Jim Roche
as `Not Adam and Steve'
Daniel von Bargen
as Jury Foreman
Kathryn Witt
as Melissa Benedict
Jane Moore
as Lydia Glines
Adam Le Fevre
as Jill's Husband
Jordan Cael
as The Jury
Steve Vignari
as The Jury
Donna Hamilton
as Angela Medina
Ira Flitter
as Andrew's Friend
Gene Borkan
as Bailiff
Lewis Walker
as "Punchline"
Randy Aaron Fink
as E.R. Doctor
Lisa Summerour
as Lisa Miller
Paul Moore
as Hospital Patient
Gary Goetzman
as Guido Paonessa
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News & Interviews for Philadelphia

Critic Reviews for Philadelphia

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (11)

  • Philadelphia may not be the film Demme's fans expect--its emotionalism is unfiltered by cool. But it has the power to open more than a few blinkered hearts.

    Mar 13, 2015 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • [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.

    Oct 10, 2008

    Todd McCarthy

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

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top 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 | Rating: 3/5
  • Arguably, the horror of death from Aids has been sanitized for popular consumption, but nevertheless it is a brave and commendable effort.

    Apr 17, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Philadelphia

  • Apr 15, 2015
    Philadelphia is heartfelt and well-performed despite the simple plot. Tom Hanks & Denzel Washington provide remarkable charisma and chemistry in this film along with a creative direction from Jonathan Demme, making this piece an underrated film of the 90s. 4/5
    Eugene B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2012
    Philadelphia is a superb drama starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Jonathan Demme crafts a solid film that brought to light the issue of AIDS. The plot of the film is terrific and director Jonathan Demme crafts a memorable film with stunning and memorable picture that is a must see. Tom Hanks gives a great performance, probably one of his best. The film's cast keeps you interested from start to finish, and the film is simply well crafted and engaging. The film is very sad and it is a powerful film that you simply can't forget. I really enjoyed the film and thought it was one of the best drama films of the 90's. This almost a perfect film and Tom Hanks definitely deserved his Oscar as the Lawyer who was fired for having the Aids virus. Brilliant and touching, this is simply a film that you can't forget. Tom Hanks delivers something unique on-screen, and the message of the film is pretty powerful. Demme does a great job directing here, and he makes another great film aside from The Silence of the Lambs. With effective directing, a great plot and phenomenal acting, Philadelphia is an outstanding drama that is near flawless and it's worth seeing for the performance of Tom Hanks. Philadelphia is a poignant film that is a stunning work in 90's cinema. A thoroughly engaging film from start to finish.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Apr 12, 2012
    fantastic movie, great acting by tom hanks, wonderful music, and the ending was touching.
    Paul A Super Reviewer
  • Feb 22, 2012
    Very good. I'm not a huge drama fan, but this film easily kept my interest for at least the majority of its duration. Some scenes drag, but overall it's very entertaining. Can be pretty depressing though, as you might expect.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer

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