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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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"[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."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"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."
‑ Rita Kempley, Washington Post
"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]"
‑ Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews
"The courtroom stuff is unwieldly, but everything else is brave and moving."
‑ Rob Thomas, Capital Times (Madison, WI)
"Being under the PC microscope transforms Demme into the bastard offspring of Stanley Kramer and Norman Lear"
‑ Bill Chambers, Film Freak Central
"Safe and apolitical it may be, but Philadelphia succeeds as a deeply affecting humanist drama."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"The story is timely and powerful, and the performances of Hanks and Washington assure that the characters will not immediately vanish into obscurity."
‑ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"Moving, Oscared '90s drama fostered AIDS empathy."
‑ Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
"involving but badly cliched"
‑ Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
"Manages to be humorous and moving without being too preachy or heavy-handed."
‑ Michael Dequina,
""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."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"This AIDS courtroom drama is so pumped full of nitrous oxide, you could get your teeth drilled on it."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"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."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"In the guise of piety, Philadelphia panders to a perceived straight-male majority."
‑ Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
"Excellent performances and the sensitive handling of complicated issues."
‑ Fred Topel,
More reviews for Philadelphia on Rotten Tomatoes

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