Making a movie with a biographical subject on a prominent personality doesn’t seem easy for obvious reasons of getting the facts right without raising eyebrows. I always watch such a subject with my expectation levels low. Whether it was October Sky, Catch Me If You Can or maybe The Basketball Diaries. But its just mind-boggling to watch film-makers beat me to it. Milk is another very fitting example of how cinema can make you sit up and notice. Non-fiction it is and its sensitive too giving even more reason to watch it.
Milk (not the lactated 1) talks about this not-too-known visionary Harvey Milk who was the first openly gay man to be a significant political figure in the state of California, US. And the role is essayed by Sean Penn (Mystic River, 21 Grams) who deservingly won his second academy award for this. A complete opposite character to the ones he has played till now. He looks so effortless while delivering his dialogues as Milk that I have forgotten the real him. I have promised myself to watch 21 Grams for the fourth time to see him play someone else. His mannerisms !
If Brokeback Mountain took portraying homosexuality one level up, Milk takes it miles ahead. Someone really wise had said, If you wanna hide your relationship you’d rather not be in one. This is what made Milk spark the movement that follows. Guilt troubled him for his secrets. Respect.
And if you are probably wrecking your brain over how Penn would have fared in those kissing and love-making scenes with his boyfriends over the movie, he leaves no stone unturned in convincing you that he indeed is a committed homosexual. Talk about playing a character.
The movie has its own emotional moments. Take for instance the scene where he gets to know he is leading against his rival political leader Biggs in his fourth attempt to become the gay representative and how esctatic he is. See him rejoice in the wake of defeat. His public debates with the rival leaders are a complete treat managing to combine both wit and meaning. I don’t know who else could have done this role but Penn wins your heart with his timing. You see yourself emoting along with him. The part where his boyfriend Jack commits suicide is a real heart-warmer. Just watch Milk feeling guilty for Jack‘s death.
Each of the characters have been cast as per the need. Emile Hirsch who plays a gay activist here has already proved himself as Christopher McCandless in the Sean Penn directed Into The Wild. The character of Dan White which is a vital one is played effortlessly by Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men). See if you can figure out its him. Be it Diego Luna as Milk‘s last lover Jack, James Franco as Scott Smith or Alison Pill as Milk‘s campaign manager Anne Kronenberg, everyone just falls in place.
What scores for the movie other than exceptional acting by all its actors is the fact that it brings together real emotions whether it is inspiration, courage, confidence, fearlessness alive on the screen. Milk did not give a fuck. He knew what he wanted.
As much as I know this shit cannot be pulled off in bollywood, I wouldn’t mind watching one of our 40+ actors attempting such a character (of a lifetime). And by which I mean serious cinema and not a story of two stupid friends trying to play homosexual lovers and very predictably falling for the same dumb chick, only to realise there is another guy who gets to bang her. Holy shit !
Director Gus Van Sant who has given us Good Will Hunting before does his homework. And ofcourse the terrific combination of producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. Remember the sexually frustrated Spacey in American Beauty ?
The writer for this movie Dustin Lance Black is someone who really understands homosexuals and this man also works as an LGBT activist, when he is not writing about them ofcourse.
Its not very often that everything seems right whether it is the screenplay, the story, actors, background score and me writing a review. So now that you are late for catching the movie at a hall, go grab the dvd. Worth your time.
Must I add, All’s well that bends well ?