MILK ****


HARVEY MILK was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States.

A New York native, he moved to San Francisco in the 1970s and became intensely involved in the political scene of the time. MILK charts the last eight years of his triumphant, tragic and socially distinctive existence.

Harvey called himself THE MAYOR OF CASTRO STREET, named after the district where he established his first retail business: a camera store.

He was elected to the position of CITY SUPERVISOR in 1977.

The film expands on these dramatic events over time.

HARVEY MILK lobbied strongly for the gay community. But his sympathies were very broad in scope. He was passionate in his support for seniors, women, minorities and union workers. He fought for them all. His influence – through the reforms that he pushed for – is felt deeply to this day.

MILK is incredibly well done. The screenplay could be a little less cliched. But the rioting and the protests shown are tremendously powerful and moving. The heartbreaking centrepiece of the film is a series of scenes that flow in and out of the narrative. They depict HARVEY dictating his last words into a tape recorder – to be heard in the event of his assassination.

There is a fundamental immediacy to the movie, as if you were experiencing it along with the actual people that were there. But there is not an ounce of pretentiousness. Or any preciousness either.

MILK is entirely authentic. From start to finish.

The acting is of the most extraordinary calibre imaginable.

DIEGO LUNA is fantastic as JACK LIRA, the last man that Harvey had a major romantic relationship with. JOSH BROLIN is chillingly effective as Dan White, HARVEY’S unbalanced nemesis. ALISON PILL is a fresh surprise as ANNE KRONENBERG, HARVEY’S lesbian campaign manager. She is also introduced into the mix while the awesome 60s hit HELLO HELLO by SOPWITH CAMEL plays in the background.

So it’s rather an auspicious moment…

After seeing EMILE HIRSCH give a bravura lead performance as CHRIS McCANDLESS in SEAN PENN’S brilliant film INTO THE WILD, it was marvelous to watch him take on a completely different role and nail it. He is absolute perfection as CLEVE JONES, a street kid that becomes Harvey’s politically aware protege.

But this film would not be what it is without the astonishing acting of SEAN PENN who totally became HARVEY MILK. Body and soul. In two decades of incredible accomplishments and awe inspiring work, this is truly the jewel in the crown.

SEAN PENN is unforgettable. It is acting on a genius level that is so far advanced it isn’t ahead of the curve.

It transcends it…

MILK is a film that everyone should see. It celebrates a great man who accomplished a lot during the last years of his life.

If only one person changes their view or opens their heart because of MILK, then it will have been well worth it. But many individuals will be touched greatly by its warmth and humanity.

After the BROKEBACK backlash at the Oscars and the Proposition 8 debacle, we need every last shred of hope we can find…

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