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George At 

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23 years ago, the story told in PHILADELPHIA brought the AIDS crisis to a wide American audience, casting one of our most popular actors in a demanding role that would forever change his career.

Tom Hanks has starred in many hits, such as "Splash", "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Big" but PHILADELPHIA was his first truly dramatic role, earning him a Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

Hanks is corporate lawyer Andrew Beckett, a smart young lawyer on the fast climb up in his firm. When he is discovered to be gay, he is immediately fired and finds himself scrambling to find a lawyer to represent him.

When none of his contemporaries will touch him (literally) or the case, Beckett stumbles on Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) who at first resists and is blatantly homophobic but slowly discovers an outrage within himself for Andrew that changes him at his core.

Washington is fantastic, realizing his own faults and assumptions about the case and Andrew.

The supporting cast is excellent, including Antonio Banderas as Andrew's lover Miguel, Joanne Woodward as Andrew's mom and Jason Robards as the man's man without a moment of realization of his bias and wrongful acts toward Andrew.

The screenplay is strong and powerful and the direction by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) creates a story that moves like a thriller but tears your heart out at the same time.

Hanks is fantastic. He has always committed to physically changing himself for a film role (Castaway) and his transformation here adds to the sadness of Andrew's slow and painful death.

The world has changed in many ways in the two decades since the film's release and the American workplace thankfully no longer represents the discrimination depicted here, (at least on its surface?)

This is an amazing, moving film that stands the test of time.

Philadelphia earns an A.

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