Monday, December 8, 2008

Milk


Thirty years after the assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay elected official, Focus Pictures has released Milk, an effective, if long overdue biopic of the slain official. The new film stars Sean Penn in the title role, and the Oscar buzz started long before its release.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, and led the gay rights movement in that city. He was a business owner, running a small camera store in the Castro district, which is still a major American gay mecca. He served in his post for eleven months before being gunned down by a fellow former Supervisor who had just killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone moments earlier.

The film succeeds on many levels, most notably with Penn’s performance. He is so absorbed by the character, that it’s easy to forget that we’re watching an actor, not the real man. What’s more, the supporting actors were all at their best, each one taking on a special role in the film.

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