Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn) is an active political figure in 1970’s San Francisco, who became the first openly gay person to hold significant public office in America. Harvey moved to San Francisco from New York after he met his partner Scott Smith (by James Franco). Together they opened a camera store in Castro Street which became a popular meeting spot for the gay community and was also the activity hub where Harvey managed his attempts to run for public office. Throughout these times, he became known as the Mayor of Castro Street as he amassed an effective campaign team, managed by Scott Smith and supported by Cleve Jones (by Emile Hirsch). As his loyal supporters grew in number and his activities gained more notoriety, so did his awareness of the possibility of achieving real change for people who up until that point had led rather secretive lives.
Using flashbacks from a statement Harvey recorded and current affairs archival footage, the film traces Milk’s career from his 40th birthday to his death in 1978 when he was assassinated by fellow San Francisco Supervisor Dan White (by Josh Brolin). It provides us with a dramatisation of the efforts and challenges Harvey went through to achieve significant change in America.
Sean Penn and James Franco are really great in this movie. Penn totally becomes Harvey Milk, his appearance is strikingly similar and his performance clearly and accurately portrays Harvey’s gentle nature, his canny understanding of politics, his courage and his determination for change.
It’s very good.