XL Popcorn – Philadelphia

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 597/1007
Title: Philadelphia
Director: Jonathan Demme
Year: 1993
Country: USA

As a gay man who loves films: how have I reached the age of 27 and not seen Philadelphia? I mean it’s not like it is a niche film or something that is overtly ‘gay interest’ (a phrase that automatically turns me off a film if I am completely honest). It’s one of those films that, whilst it may not be the most critically regarded, was an important landmark in how mainstream media depicted homosexuality.

However, it is important to remember that this is 1993. I mention this because despite there being many gay man depicted on screen at no point did I see two men kiss each other on the mouth. Also, any mention of male homosexual sex is done for the sake of a joke or with an undercurrent of disgust.

I do understand the point of showing all this prejudice. After all, this is a film about a man who was wrongfully terminated because he had AIDS. The ‘gay panic’ that this caused resulted, and still results, in discrimination. Again, it’s 1993 so things have gotten better now – better, but not perfect.

Anyway, about the movie. Isn’t Tom Hanks just great in this film? Well, he’s pretty much great in everything that he does, but taking on the role of a gay lawyer dying of AIDS must have been particularly risky. Still – you just cannot fault his acting here when presented with the limitations of a 1993 mainstream film dealing with gay issues.

Looking at this film objectively I know there are flaws. The whole thing is played to tug on the heartstrings (if you are a liberal), the video montage at the end goes way too long and I don’t think the evidence against the law firm is strong enough for the large majority decision reached by the jury.

On the whole though, this is a good watch. Slightly manipulative in places, but it still ticked a lot of the boxes for me.


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