In Milk, Sean Penn inhabits America’s first self-identified gay politician, Harvey Milk. As with Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon (2008), within seconds I ceased focusing on Sean Penn the actor and was carried away with his brilliant performance as Milk.
Penn is one of the finest actors of his generation. The characters he convincingly plays in, for example, Milk (2008), I Am Sam (2001) and Dead Man Walking (1995) couldn’t be more different. There are only a few actors capable of his astonishing range – Ed Norton being another.
Josh Brolin plays Milk’s assassin, Dan White. Hitherto unknown to me, Brolin has been on quite the run lately with his terrific performances in Milk, ‘W’ (2008) and 2007’s best picture winner, No Country for Old Men (2007). He’s a solid actor with a bright future.
The movie will be controversial for some. For example the movie demonizes the influential singer and fundamentalist Christian Anita Bryant and her powerful attack on homosexuals. The anti-homosexual political battle that Bryant started in the 70’s, a nation-wide campaign’s to impeded gay rights on all levels, continues (albeit with waning national support) to this day – with Prop 8 being the most prominent recent example.
Gus Van Sant, most famous for the Oscar winning Good Will Hunting (1997) directed Milk. His nomination as best director for Milk is well deserved. His intertwining of historical footage with modern footage was marvellous.
Milk is very good. I strongly recommend it.