"And It was about that time that someone first called me ‘The Mayor of Castro Street’…I may have invented the term myself."
- Harvey Milk (Sean Penn)
Dan White (Josh Brolin) Harvey, society can’t exist without the family.
Harvey Milk: We’re not against that.
Dan White: You’re not? What, can two men reproduce?
Harvey Milk: No, but God knows we keep trying!
At a glance:
Gus van Sant directs and Sean Penn stars in this moving and virtually perfect tribute to gay rights activist Harvey Milk, and an outstanding supporting cast helps create an authentic feeling of ‘community’
Harvey Milk was a gay rights pioneer who saw the vaccuum of leadership and representation, and was perfectly suited to fill it. Starting in an area of San Francisco called Castro, he battled against prejudiced straights, brutal police, and a slow start to his political career to finally become the first openly gay person to be elected to public office.
There’s no doubt Sean Penn, like a fine wine, is getting better with age. His recent directorial project, Into the Wild, was a stylized success. And his portrayal of Harvey Milk retains his usual on-screen dynamic presence with a restraint not normally associated with his performances. He and a talented supporting cast, led by Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin, create a moving tribute to Milk and a seemingly accurate snapshot of the growth of the gay rights movement in the 1970s. Director Gus Van Sant uses a documentary style to lend creedence to this biopic.
The film ends with a series of comparisons between the cast compared with photos of the real people they portrayed; in many cases, the likenesses are striking.
Milk has been nominated for 8 Academy awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Brolin), and Best Director (van Sant).
Other reviewers said:
"As a portrait of Harvey Milk, Van Sant's film is a sincere work, bolstered by an unquestionably outstanding turn by Sean Penn."
-James Mottram (Channel 4 Film)
"Van Sant’s skill as a film-maker is showcased here to inspiring effect. Rarely has a lesson in political history felt so involving and alive."
-Wendy Ide Times [UK])