Many people of influence record their memoirs – few feel the need to do so because someone may soon be successful in their assassination attempts.
Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) was a closeted gay man trapped in a corporate culture that would never accept him. A chance meeting with a beautiful younger man (James Franco) gives Harvey the strength to break out of his restraints. He and Scott set out on a journey that leads them to the Castro district in San Francisco. However, arriving before the neighbourhood became a gay centre, it was intimidating and dangerous. Harvey set to work, organizing gays in the community and creating the accepting culture for which the area would become known. He was nicknamed “Mayor of Castro.” After numerous attempts, Harvey finally became the first openly gay elected official – he was executed, along with the mayor, by a colleague less than a year later.
"My name is Harvey Milk and I'm here to recruit you." Milk is the story of a man that stood up for gay rights not just because he was gay, but because it was right. Penn portrays Harvey's passion for people and his cause exceptionally well – so well, it garnered him an Oscar. But a leading man can only be great if he has great support and Penn was lucky – Franco, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin and Diego Luna are exquisite.
Despite knowing Harvey's fate from the outset, you find yourself behind him wishing him success. The film draws the audience in with wonderful writing and captivating characters, perfectly marrying inspiration and tragedy in an affecting biopic.
The DVD bonus features include three deleted scenes that showcase the actors’ talents more than the narrative and three featurettes that run under 15 minutes: “Remembering Harvey;” “Hollywood comes to San Francisco;” and “Marching for Equity.” These include interviews with the actors and some of their real-life counterparts, including Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg. The featurettes are adequate but when dealing with a man with so much charisma, it feels as if more could have been said and included.