Monday, February 23, 2009

Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)


It's difficult to criticise this hagiography of the patron saint of gay rights in times when said rights are taking a fresh trashing. But Harvey Milk's legacy has nothing to do with an ensemble of earnest, nobly-intentioned actors purging hefty chunks of exposition to try reduce an unwieldy man's life into a two-hour running time.

That said, for as long as you're watching Sean Penn, it's as though you're watching a much better movie. Beyond the fact that he sells the exposition and manages a phenomenal bit of mimicry, and beyond the fact that nothing about his posture and cadences and goofy grinning is remotely recognisable from previous Sean Penn joints, it's always gratifying to follow a generous, wonderfully tactile and vibrant character thriving over the my-personality-is-defined-by-a-neat-chronology-of-unceasing-dignity creed of the biopic.

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