Thursday, April 11, 2013

Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008) Review

Have I ever heard of Harvey Milk? Speaking as white, British, heterosexual male...I have not (focus on British and heterosexual). I can appreciate his work but this film was the first time I've ever heard of him. That's right, we're doing two true stories in a row. I might as well do one for Friday too just for the heck of it. Well then, let's take a look at the life of Harvey Milk in Milk.

Upon reaching his 40th birthday, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and his boyfriend Scott Smith (James Franco) leave New York in order to start a new life together in San Francisco where they set up a camera shop that ends up becoming the centre point of San Francisco's gay community. Harvey realises his calling and decides to go into politics in order to get the word about gay rights spread across the country. His chances of being voted for public office increases when he learns that another politician, Dan White (Josh Brolin), may help Harvey's cause. With the support of the gay community and potential help from Dan White, Milk continues Harvey's journey into politics. 

I am absolutely clueless when it comes to American politics...hell, when it comes to ANY politics but I can safely say that the film does a great job of making Harvey to be a likeable person. I can't really defend the film on whether or not it's accurate in it's representations but I'm tackling his as a film lover and Sean Penn does a good job of portraying a, supposedly, likeable person. He won an Oscar for this, damn straight. The side characters (I feel bad for calling real people characters but...hey, it's a film) are also pretty good. Can I also say that every time Josh Brolin plays a character based on someone, he always looks just like them (See Men in Black III).

I guess my only complaint about the film is the structure  It's set up with Harvey looking back on his life (and even ruins the ending in the opening...then again, history has ruined it too) and it seems to lessen the impact that certain events make. The ending is done excellently but it's hard to appreciated when the set up of the film has sort of spoiled it. It might just be me but I think the film would be just that little bit better if it was a straight line.

Milk is a great look into the life of a (I assume) revolutionary man.  Sean Penn is at his best here and the supporting cast isn't far off (I'm sure they've done better though). The structure is really the only aspect that hinders the film but it's more down to personal taste. If you're up for a film that's perfect for emotive responses  this is one for you.

Sean Penn brings on a powerhouse performance for a film whose only really problem is it's structure.

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