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Milk February 23, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to any public office, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk is the story of his life, his triumph, his activism and his unfortunate death.

Written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, Paranoid Park), Milk is an affecting, moving film. The period and the gay rights movement are captured very well and the audience can sympathize with the problems of being openly gay during the period.

But this is ultimately the story of one man and Sean Penn portrays him brilliantly. I have witnessed a few of Penn’s performances before this one, but here he is a completely different person and you only see Harvey Milk after a while. The film also features admirable supporting turns from Josh Brolin (W, American Gangster), James Franco (Spider-Man 3, Pineapple Express) and Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer).

Apart from his political life, the film also tracks his personal life and relationships. This helps the audience relate to Milk as an ordinary person as opposed to a hero. It also helps the straight folks in the audience who do not have gay friends and do not understand how their lives function to find them to be just like everyone else.

Milk has a great story to tell and features a knockout performance from Sean Penn. It captures an important period in history of the gay rights movement and the fundamental problem of fighting for your rights has universal appeal. Watch it if the idea of a docudrama based on a real life personality appeals to you.