Thursday, 11 December 2008
Fresh from its victory at the NY Critics Awards, I decided to watch Gus Van Sant's Milk last night and was glad I did. After a glorious experimental phase that produced Gerry, Elephant, Last Days and Echo Park, Van Sant returns with a more conventionally told tale of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), the self-styled Mayor of Castro Street in San Francisco who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US and who was later gunned down by a disgruntled former colleague, Dan White (Josh Brolin). Penn, who all but disappears into the role, excels as the eponymous activist, Brolin, who picked up the Best Supporting Actor award from the NY Critics to go with Penn's Best Actor award, makes the most of the uptight White (arguably the most thankless role in the story), and the film brilliantly uses archive footage both to tell the story and to save on expensive recreations. A worthy tale well told.