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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Philadelphia

Starring: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: January 1994
Genres: Drama, Gay-Lesbian

*Also starring: Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Antonio Banderas, Joanne Woodward, Ron Vawter, Robert Ridgely, Charles Napier, Roger Corman

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dragan Antulov read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

Although PHILADELPHIA could have been a better movie, more about this latter, I really liked it, especially for Tom Hank's extremely moving performance as someone dying of AIDS. There are many parts of the movie that I will remember for a long time, but most of all is the courtroom scene where Tom Hanks testifies in his own behalf. Hanks's performance deserves an Oscar, but many other parts of that scene were outstanding. His makeup throughout the movie is chillingly realistic especially how pale he looks at court. I hate cute camera angles, but the choice of having the camera tilted whenever it shows what Hanks is seeing makes you feel sick too. Overall, it really makes you think: there but for the grace of God go I.

There are two other excellent parts of the show. The family, especially his mother played by Joanne Woodward, is loving and stands behind him without being judgmental and the characters in the family are not overdrawn. Another excellent scene is the costume ball. You can really see the love and the happiness even in times of trouble that this group of gay friends have. The script by Ron Nyswaner is outstanding as is the directing by Jonathan Demme. Demme is one of my favorite directors. His long repertoire of wonderful movies include: SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, MARRIED TO THE MOB, SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA, and my personal favorite SOMETHING WILD. I recommend you rent them all many times.

The movie could and should have been even better. The homophobia was over done. The scene in the drug store where someone tried to pick up Denzel Washington starts off fine, but then goes overboard, ditto for the bar scene, Washington's home scene, etc. Also, Washington's character was not well written. He started off hating gay people and by the middle and end of the movie, it was unclear what he thought.

Some scenes were totally ridiculous. Chief among these was the scene where Hanks has to babble a long soliloquy signifying nothing while listening to Opera music. Finally, both lawyers at the trial were too low key for such an important case, and Mary Steenbergen was terribly miscast as she frequently is. Her script was so bad on the other hand, you kind of had to kind of feel sorry for her. She has a very limited range of acting abilities, but seems to be cast in widely differing roles.

Copyright 1994 Steve Rhodes

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