When Andrew Beckett is fired by his law firm due to having HIV he is not willing to accept that and hires Joe Miller who just happens to be homophobic and will change his views as well as the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS.
Andy seemed to have everything going for him within his professional career just been given a promotion for the very powerful law firm in Philadelphia. He never discloses his sexuality due to some inappropriate jokes which made him realise that it would not be accepted by the men in charge at the firm. When a colleague spots a lesion which is directly linked to AIDS everything then changes.
He had been struggling with his illness just before this and had been off sick from work. They used this to try and claim he was incompetent in his job even though each and every client he had only had positive things to say about him as well as winning his cases. Joe Miller did not want to take the case on at all, but when he realises that it really could make a difference he goes with it.
The courtroom scenes are very powerful and at times upsetting as we see Andy become weaker during the trial. The most impressive thing has to be the change in attitude from Joe towards homosexuals. This is something that he declares he is not comfortable with to his wife and does not agree with it. When you compare that to the way he fights for Andy in the case and then attending parties you can see that he sees things differently. Although being propositioned in a pharmacy was not very well received.
As Andy is going up against the law firm he used to work for it does create some pretty tough moments for the people involved. Most of them have nothing against him and were his friend, I feel the moment Belinda after questioning him on the stand says I hate this case confirms that she doesn’t really want to be working on it. His private life is put on the stand and as well as his choices.
To really take on the stigma attached the to the brutal disease that in the late 80s really did deprive so many young men the chance of living a long life. I feel the attitudes towards it now are very different as compared to back then it is no longer regarded as a death sentence due to the advances in medicine. I do however believe this is an important film to highlight the discrimination gay men faced due to this disease.
Each time I watch this film it breaks my heart all over again, I don’t think anyone could deny that Tom Hanks more than deserved his Oscar win for this performance. It really is on another level and to the decline in health done in the best possible manner. The opera scene is where the tears start for me and that moment with Hanks and Denzel Washington really is on another level. Washington is outstanding as well working so very well together.