Thursday, November 27, 2008
Review: Milk (2008)
Finally! A movie meets my expectations! It hasn't happened in a while. In fact it almost never happens. Having seen the trailer (involuntarily) maybe 50 times, I thought for sure I was desensitized to the premise (surely it had to be heartbreaking and I wasn't going to feel heartbroken), and I was sure I was going to be disappointed.
Milk is a fantastic, touching film, telling the story of the eponymous hero Harvey Milk (the breathtaking Sean Penn), and how he succeeded in getting the wheels turning in the gay right movement in America. The first hour spans 8 years of his move to San Francisco with his partner Scott (James Franco), setting up shop, and generating an openly gay community which thrived on love and good vibrations... In this time Milk decides that it's time that there should be one of his own in office. He makes his campaign, and runs 4 times before he is elected as a city supervisor. In that time, we meet his small and trusty band of loyal gays (Joseph Cross, Lucas Grabeel, Brandon Boyce), his eccentric young protegé (Emile Hirsch, in a seriously awesome role), his token lesbian (Alison Pil), and his second, less-exciting lover (Diego Luna).
They are all great.
Perhaps better still, is Josh Brolin, who plays the villainous--yet surprisingly sympathetic--Dan White, a fellow supervisor with bigot ambitions. He is the one who kills Milk. Surprise! Don't worry, I didn't spoil it. Dan White tries his best and follows his conscience, it just takes a road that not many of us normally would. You can't help but feel sorry for him, even if you know what he's going to do.
Sean Penn's performance completes me. I can't say anything more, but he SO steals my heart.
I think there is nothing too extraordinary about Gus Van Sant's directing style. I'd say there were a few bad choices made, but overall, the movie is extremely powerful and moving. The subject matter is heavy and I can't articulate everything I want to about its effect on society (if there will be any), and perhaps the effect it might've had were it released a month ago (for voter's of California's Proposition 8), and how it might do in the Oscar race (Some people might be scared about how pro-gay it is). The film is not all about Milk, it's about the movement--not the monument--the gave gay people their voices. I think we should be proud of this film.