February 17, 2009
I came into this movie not knowing anything about Harvey Milk nor the history of gay rights. It has been an eye opening movie for me in terms of how people have struggled so that my friends could enjoy the freedom that they now have. That being said, the struggle for equality is not still over.
It's also very pleasing that the movie showed a lot of his personal life with a backdrop of the gay rights movement. I really appreciated that. It makes him more human and not just an iconic figure of the movement.
Having seen his other movies, I knew even before that Sean Penn was a great actor but in this movie, he impressed me even more. His performance is increadibly nuanced down to hand movements, his stance, his way of talking and even the tone of his voice. I didn't even think it was him on the screen but Harvey Milk himself. It's one of those rare things you witness as an audience member when an "actor" transends his own self and thus "becomes" the charater. It is very powerful. Josh Brolin was equally good as Dan White. Also notable were James Franco, Harvey's lover and the very amusing Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones. Make sure to check it out, if not just for the historical significance, but also for a man who stood up for what he believed in.