Even a good performance by Tom Hanks and noble intentions can’t save this mainstream look at AIDS from the worst effects of nervous committeethink. A top Philadelphia lawyer (Hanks) who happens to be gay is fired by his firm (headed by Jason Robards) when it’s discovered that he has That Disease. Hanks decides to sue and winds up hiring a homophobic lawyer (Denzel Washington) to fight the opposition, led by Mary Steenburgen. You may be hoping for an exciting courtroom drama a la Otto Preminger, but all screenwriter Ron Nyswaner and director Jonathan Demme can come up with are simplistic formulas and cardboard character studies; it’s symptomatic that the filmmakers don’t even have the guts to show Hanks and his lover (Antonio Banderas) kissing. Clearly, this 1993 movie isn’t for people who know anyone with AIDS; it’s for people who know people who know people who know people with AIDS.
R • 2 hours 5 min • 1993