Sunday, January 11, 2009

Milk - Mini-review

Got Milk yet? If not, you should. You've seen the commercials where Sean Penn as Harvey Milk shouts to the crowd, "I'm Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you!" Well, I'm Movie Maven, and I'm here to recruit you to see a fantastic film, and one of the best performances I've ever seen of Sean Penn.

We all know how the story ends, with the assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official. The movie begins with the news footage of the real Diane Feinstein reporting that he and the mayor of San Francisco have been shot. The movie is then told in a series of flashbacks interspersed with Harvey Milk taping his story into an audio tape recorder "in case of my assassination." It's an incredible story, and even knowing the ending, I wept at the end when it happens.

I have never seen Sean Penn better than he is in this film. Usually he's so dour and morose, and as Harvey Milk he practically vibrates with joie de vivre and passion with that infectious smile. His romance with James Franco is so affecting. Their scenes together, especially their "meet cute" in the subway are possibly the most romantic I saw all year. Josh Brolin as Dan White, the man who kills Harvey Milk, is also excellent, and will like earn a supporting nomination this year.

I just adore this film. You'd think it would be depressing, but it is so uplifting how Milk fights for gay rights. It's particularly poignant given the Prop. 8 debacle in California. Highly recommended, four stars. Consider yourself recruited!

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