Tuesday, April 5, 2016

858. Philadelphia

Directed by Jonathan Demme

It is absolutely appalling how long it took everyone to acknowledge the AIDs crisis.  I wasn't alive for the eighties but I have heard firsthand accounts of what it was like for victims and their friends, family, and lovers.  It is a very upsetting and emotional topic.  Is it possible to watch AIDs activists dumping their loved ones ashes on the White House lawn without tearing up?  I hope not.

I guess I should be discussing the actual film.  Andrew Beckett is a young lawyer who is hiding both his illness and his sexual orientation from the partners at his firm.  Beckett is being assigned to the firm's most important case when one of the partners notices a lesion on his forehead.  Beckett tells them that it is a racquetball injury, but the partner realizes that it is Kaposi's Sarcoma, having worked with a woman who contracted AIDs through a blood transfusion.  The partners conjure up a flimsy reason to fire Beckett.  Beckett hopes to sue the firm, but is unable to find anyone willing to take his case.  Enter the dashing Joe Miller, who is willing to fight the good fight, despite his own homophobia.

It is kind of upsetting to me to hear people call this film Oscar bait.  It makes it sound like the filmmakers were only interested in garnering a few awards rather than telling a story that desperately needs to be heard.  Maybe I am being naive, but I truly think it was a noble cause to take up this tale; I know a lot of actors, studios, and directors wouldn't have touched this film with a ten foot pole.

Anyway, it is a film that everyone should watch.  See?  I can deal with upsetting material.  Now I have to go find some tissues...

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Tom Hanks lost 30 pounds for his role, while Denzel Washington was required to gain a few pounds for his.  Apparently, Washington would eat chocolate bars in front of Hanks, presumably to just be the worst.

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