Film Review – Milk

I’m not usually a big fan of the biopic genre. They tend either to laud the subject unconditionally or to portray the individual in an entirely negative light. This – along with an inclination to cover large periods of someone’s life in 100 minutes – means that the subtleties and inconsistencies that all of us have in our characters are lost.

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay US politician to be elected. This biopic tells a 10 year story from the age of 40 about his time living in The Castro in San Francisco and early political power. From what I can tell from some subsequent background reading, it is a very faithful rendition of a most unusual story. Indeed, you will only understand the significance of some scenes when you know the story in some detail.

After 15 years of trying to make this film, the direction from Guy Van Sant is somewhat ponderous. The film’s strength is in the oscar winning performance from Sean Penn. Robin Williams was originally identified for the part of Harvey Milk (in his slimmer days) and it is difficult to see how he could have improved upon Penn’s performance. The other strength is the capturing of the spirit of the time.

This isn’t a must see, but you won’t waste your time in viewing this film. Good story and great acting. 7 out of 10.

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