I’m not normally a fan of “based on a true story” movies simply because there normally isn’t enough drama involved (unless you’ve got a story like Miracle). That said, Milk really wasn’t on my radar cause I’m not a big Sean Penn fan either. However, once the reviews came out I knew that I had to see it simply to see how well Penn pulled off the role of Harvey Milk.
If you’re familiar with the story, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the state of California. This movie tells the story of his rise through the ranks of local politics (in the Eureka Valley of San Francisco on Castro Street) to his eventual election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and subsequent assassination at the hands of Dan White (played by Josh Brolin).
If you’re homophobic in the least this is definitely not the flick for you. While the homosexual content isn’t over the top it’s paramount to the story. Milk’s relationships with Cleve Jones (Emlie Hirsch) and Scott Smith (James Franco) take quite a bit of screen time but are weaved in so that you don’t forget what’s going on in the political storyline. I’d be interested to learn how the real life Harvey Milk is remembered within the gay community. Not sure if he’s thought of as an influential figure in history akin to MLK? I’m completely ignorant on this topic as I’d never even heard of Milk until this flick came out.
Sean Penn ended up winning the Oscar (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role) for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. I still think that Mickey Rourke was better in The Wrestler but that’s just one man’s opinion. That said, I can completely understand why the Academy honored Penn – it was a GREAT performance. If you’re a fan of great acting then you should definitely check this one out. I wasn’t enthralled by the story as a whole but Penn stands out for sure. As a movie I’d give it a mild recommendation.