Plot – The story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official – Milk.
Director – Gus Van Sant
Released – 2008
Seldom does Hollywood get it right when exploring the lives of gay historical figures, either watering down their story or changing it completely, But when it comes to Van Sant’s Milk this isn’t the case, with his excellent direction coupled with Dustin Lance Black’s writing and perfect acting across the board help to create a fitting legacy to the life and times of Harvey Milk. A man who followed his convictions and fought hard to make a difference despite multiple setbacks.
Throughout the film, Penn makes sure that we see all sides of this complex and nuanced individual, showing Milk’s vulnerability and insecurity just as much as the steely determination he is remembered for.
The film is also enriched by the sense of realism that Van Sant opted for, giving it a raw and unpolished feel that reminds the viewer of ’70s cinematic masterpieces such as Taxi Driver and Urban Cowboy and treats this serious subject matter with the respect it deserves and while some might find elements unsavoury or a hard watch, these are crucial to giving the whole picture.
The only downside I found with the film was the limited time dedicated to exploring what made Dan White (Brolin) tick and dedicating more time to explaining the course of actions he ended up following.