Philadelphia. 1993. USA. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Screenplay by Ron Nyswaner. With Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas, Roberta Maxwell. 125 min.
In 1993, in the US alone there were more than 40,000 deaths linked to AIDS-related illnesses, yet Philadelphia was the first big Hollywood feature to deal with the epidemic. Tom Hanks, in his second Oscar-winning role, plays attorney Andrew Beckett, who works at a powerful and traditional Philadelphia law firm. When Andrew is diagnosed with AIDS, his anxious employers latch onto a convenient “error”—a missing document for a pending deal—to fire him. When no other firm will take on the wrongful dismissal suit against Andrew’s behemoth employer, he seeks out Joe Miller, the kind of lawyer who advertises on TV and bus benches. Miller is homophobic himself, but he immerses himself in Andrew’s case out of eventual moral outrage.