Milk – Sean Penn

My respect for Sean Penn has grown over the years; the deal was probably sealed when I saw him in 21 Grammes with Naomi Watts. But if you’d told me even a year ago that this brooding charismatic actor was going to take the part of the impish but extraordinarily tenacious gay activist of San Francisco’s Castro district, Harvey Milk, I would have been puzzled or dismissive. Or both.

But Penn is brilliant in the role. He creates an entirely convincing and moving portrait of Milk, a vulnerable, determined, mischievous, clever and instinctive politician who recognised the importance of political representation and canny alliances to promote the cause about which he cared most passionately.

Milk is not just a moving recreation of a key cultural and political moment in recent history. It’s a hymn to the power of democracy, raw and messy as it so often is.

2 Responses to Milk – Sean Penn

  1. I totally agree with you: Sean Penn’s performance is deserving of the Oscar but his achievement will probably be superceded by sentimentality, and it’ll probably go to Mickey Rourke (although Frank Langella’s magnificent portrayal of Richard Nixon would be as worthy a winner as Penn’s Milk). The film itself was also a triumph of evocation, bringing back many memories to me: I was just edging my way out of the closet, and educating myself about gay rights, feminisim, racism, etc, when Milk and Moscone were murdered. I didn’t need anything else to fuel my outrage and activism, but it certainly helped. A few months later, I went on my first Gay Pride march in London, where the police vastly outnumbered the marchers, and there were no big corporate sponsors or major politicians lining up to bolster our cause. Harvey Milk was still very much in our minds.

    • Well actually you and I were wrong weren’t we? Sean Penn got the Oscar. He was so good, totally deserved. mx

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