- Of, relating to, or having a sexual orientation to persons of the same sex.
- Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry.
- Bright or lively, especially in color: a gay, sunny room.
- Given to social pleasures.
- Dissolute; licentious.
- A person whose sexual orientation is to persons of the same sex.
- A man whose sexual orientation is to men: an alliance of gays and lesbians.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
Deftly weaving in archival footage (which seems to be the standard in a lot of biopics these days), ‘Milk’ tells the story of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), a politician and gay rights activist, who was assasinated in the late 70s. It also plays around with the timeline a lot, with Milk recording his will throughout the film. We go back, then, all the way to New York in 1970, to Milk’s 40th birthday and his first meeting with Scott Smith (James Franco). His lack of satisfaction with his activism leads him to pastures anew, and to San Francisco. Things seems to be alright for the most part, until the fire that burns within him burns those around him as well. Milk wanted so much for gay people everywhere that his relationship with those around him suffers as well. Smith, and then Jack Lira (Diego Luna), all paid a heavy price for their love.
On the public front, things appears to be going well, with Milk eventually winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly-gay man in America to do so. It is here that he meets Dan White (Josh Brolin), someone who serves as the complete opposite to Milk in almost every way. Throughout the film, from this point on, it is the interaction between these two men that sets the tone for the film. As the film develops, we see how each effect has its cause, and without Josh Brolin to play off against, Sean Penn may not have achieved all that he did with this role.
Special attention must be given to the script, though. Written by Dustin ‘Gay’ Black (as you might be able to discern from his Oscar acceptance speech), it’s clear that he has drawn a lot from personal experience. That’s not to say that it is the source for the story; the film, after all, is based on a real-life figure. Nevertheless, it is the heart of the film that is my point here. It may not necessarily be his own, but the experience is definitely personal. Its about how people like Redz and Prabhu were being discriminated by the government and about every one else due to their sexuality. That’s when Milk comes into the picture and says, “My name is Harvey Milk and I wanna recruit you!” and commence his campaign on freedom for all, regardless of their race, religion and sexuality. The gay life you see here seems to be very realistic…which can be quite disturbing for some. I am still having nightmares on the scene where Sean Penn was playing with and slapping Diego Luna’s butt in the nude in a dark room. Scenes like this can be more frightening than ‘The Shutter’.
Before I go further, though, there’s something I want to get off my chest. Somebody give me a gun, because, after his acceptance speech, I felt like shooting Mr Black. Initially, I thought that his acceptance speech was a bit much. OK fine, being a gay kid who wants attention, this guy actually managed to write a first-rate script about how one man stood up on behalf of his kind, struggled trough a lot of political bollocks to fight for their mere existence in a nation that is supposed to be anti-discriminatory in nature. Upon further reflection, though, I realised that if it weren’t for Harvey, America, especially San Francisco, wouldn’t be so kind to gays and lesbians. I can see the impact Harvey has on this guy and the impact was so great that it led him to write an Oscar-winning script. So respect goes to you, gay boy! I am bering serious here: I realise how great this kid is. It was actually a freaking good script written to enlighten the world on how the homosexuals suffered back in the 70s, and how one man changed it. So kudos to you Lance – which is now officially a gay name. (Fikri: Now I’m thinking of Lance Bass, and I realise Fazil has a point…)
The titular character was played brilliant by Oscar-winner Sean Penn. Although I may have been harsh on him in the previous post, Penn played a difficult role well. I don’t think many actors could play a gay man as compellingly as he did. (Fikri: Oher actors considered for the role throughout its development history: Richard Gere, Daniel Day-Lewis, James Woods, Robin Williams. Can they be gay?). He threw himself completely into the role, and it was absolutely amazing. For example, I think the kissing scenes were outrageous, but somehow it appeared to be very realistic. I couldn’t put it better than how Robert De Niro did: “How could Sean Penn fooled us all these years playing straight men”. Also, the scenes showing his impatience and frustrations while fighting for the gay ordinance was just first-class.
It’s not just him alone, though. The rest of the cast played their roles very well, and what a cast it was. In addition to Sean Penn, we have James ‘Gay’ Franco, Emile ‘Gay’ Hirsch, Diego ‘Gay’ Luna, and Josh ‘Straight’ Brolin. And what great direction from Gus Van Sant. I have to say that if it weren’t for Danny Boyle, I would have wanted him to win the Oscar himself.
Was the movie touching? Yes it was. I nearly cried but didn’t. It was a pretty good movie, though halfway through some parts got a bit too political for my liking. Beyond that, however, I don’t how much the movie can touch you in the same way. I ‘Doubt’ (another movie I saw last weekend. See what I did there?) that this will be released in Malaysia. If, somehow, one way or another, you do get a chance to watch it on DVD, then go for it. You won’t regret it. Watch it especially for Sean Penn’s…sorry, I mean Oscar-winner Sean Penn’s remarkable acting.
It might make your life a gay (merry) one.
Fazil still thinks that ‘In Bruges’ had a better script, though…