“All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.”
Cast: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Emile Hirsch
Sean Penn stars in the biographical film about Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist who went on to become the first openly gay man elected into the public office of California.
Milk is a truly moving film that captures the rise and fall of Harvey, who was unfortunately assassinated by Dan White (Josh Brolin), less than a year after he got into office.
The performances in this film are amazing. Especially from Penn who I have never seen connect with a script so well, his performance is most certainly the best and it’s great to see him pull off a role so well. Maybe it’s because of the undeniable history and influential role that Harvey Milk played in society. He is such an icon to the gay community and anyone that stands for equality, that I think everybody working on this project knew they had to do it justice. Brolin is fabulous as White and James Franco is brilliant as Harvey’s lover Scott Smith, really showing off his acting talents that are going to see him in this business for years.
The focus within the film was great. Yes, obviously there had to be a certain level of attention on Harvey as he is the film, but it never strays from the point at hand making it coherent and consistent, two great features that some films lose focus of when trying to be perfect in every way. It also doesn’t shy away when documenting Harvey’s life. Though he was fighting for a very just cause, Harvey wasn’t a saint and the film doesn’t paint him out to be – which only adds to his levels of humanity. Some directors may have tried to manipulate Harvey’s lifestyle in order to paint him as the perfect role model, yet it’s these little traits that really place the film in the category of a great biopic and not some distortion of the truth, which was a very redeeming factor.
Gus Van Sant directs the film and does so with a brilliant handle on the inspiring story. This film re-introduced him back to mainstream cinema as he had been directing art-house projects in previous years. It is smart, emotional, slick and very informative, and anyone who wants a closer look at Milk’s aspirations and vision should really turn to this film. Though these events happened just over 30 years ago it seems a lifetime away. The film gives great insight to a significant piece of history and shows how far we have come as a society since the late 70s, but don’t be fooled, we still have a long way to go.
I can’t recommend Milk enough, a fantastic film that shows the rise and fall of one of the most influential people in history and his fight for equality, Harvey Milk.
Star rating: 8/10
Directed by Gus Van Sant.
Running time 128 minutes.