Tuesday, May 7, 2013

All men are created equal


"Are you a homo? Are you a queer? Are you a faggot? Are you a fruit? Are you *gay*, sir?"

Discrimination has no boundaries, it's not limited to ethnicity or colour of the skin. It exists while judging a person by character or personality, likes and dislikes or even sexual orientation. There are no ground rules or limitations to it and one such example is the case of an intelligent and skillful lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) who gets fired from his job because he is a homosexual and is also suffering from AIDS in Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia (1993)

The story begins with two lawyers, Beckett and Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) seen together as the former is defending a construction company accused of spreading harmful dust. Beckett is a successful lawyer working for a prestigious law firm and is liked by his bosses which is noticeable as they assign him a high profile case and make him a senior associate. With all the success in his work life he has two big secrets which he managed to keep from his colleagues, one that he is a homosexual and the other that he is suffering from AIDS. His life turns as the papers which he was working on for the high profile case mysteriously disappear and are found just in time before submission at court. Due to this incident he gets fired from his job. 

"We're standing here in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the birthplace
of freedom, where the founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence,
and I don't recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men
are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal."
Homosexuality was and still is looked down upon by the society. It raises eyebrows and is an easy target of abuse by this so-called perfect world. Beckett being a homosexual couldn't find a way to bring it out in the open as he witnessed how his bosses joked about homosexuals. As if that wasn't enough, him suffering from AIDS just added to his woes and being a homosexual having AIDS was too much for him to disclose. After being given charge of the high profile case, one of the partners in the law firm noticed a lesion on his forehead which perhaps raised a suspicion. There was a similar case when a woman who contacted AIDS through blood transfusion had lesions and had told all the partners that it was because of the disease that she had them. Beckett suspected that his bosses sacked him due to his condition and not because of their accusations that he was incompetent and not doing his job well. He went out to seek a lawyer to file a lawsuit against his wrongful termination without much luck as nine of the top lawyers in Philadelphia rejected his case. 

After those series of incidents Miller enters, a damage claim lawyer often known to the locals as the guy from the television. He is a firm believer in justice and grabs onto every opportunity when it comes to advertising his services. He detests homosexuals and thinks very low of them which becomes obvious while he discusses his views with his wife. Beckett approaches him with his case in anticipation that he will help him. But it doesn't work as Miller refuses so he decides to fight it himself. However, Miller has a change of heart and decides to take up his case as he feels strongly for the discrimination against Beckett which he witnesses at a public library. Both of them work well together with their characters and it's heartening to see how Beckett's suffering changes Miller's outlook on homosexuals and opens up his mind. The courtroom drama is interesting and kept me involved throughout as both the lawyers fight to defend their clients. Belinda Conine (Mary Steenburgen) however was not that dynamic as a cold-hearted lawyer whose only goal was to win the case. Also it's a little disappointing to see that Antonio Banderas, who plays Miller's partner Miguel Alvarez is under used and the couple lacks character in terms of having any chemistry between them. 

Judge Garrett: "In this courtroom, Mr.Miller, justice is blind to matters
of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation."
Joe Miller: "With all due respect, your honor, we don't live in this courtroom, do we?"
Philadelphia is a solid story which deals with topics of homosexuality and AIDS, that are mainly a cause of discomfort among people. Hanks and Washington play their characters exceptionally well especially Hanks who is brilliant in all aspects. The scene in which he plays an aria from his favourite opera and translates it to Washington is one of my all time favourites. You will witness how homosexuals are looked down upon and they way AIDS patients are isolated but at the same time you will also see how their loved ones offer them undying support right till the end. Love is not limited to being just between Adam and Eve, it could also be between Adam and Steve. 

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