Film Reviews

Milk Gus Van Sant

Rating - 7/10

I sent Indian runner friends out to see Milk. Their job? Report back to me exactly how much James Franco I was going to get to warrant my having to put up with two hours of Sean Penn, as sorry to say, Sean and I are not on the best of terms.

Both said that while I would not be getting all the James Franco I would want, Sean Penn for once would not annoy me. So this weekend, I saw Milk and yes, they were right.

Sean Penn is very believable in the role. The script does a fine job of showing how he develops into this complete political animal who, had he not been killed, wouldn’t have stopped until he reached the White House. It’s all very clear, how he operates, makes these alliances, works with people, pushes his agenda. You are never at a loss as to what’s going on and that is rare in a political drama. The interweaving of real footage with the film is extremely well done and the story of Proposition 6 certainly deserved to be retold.

However, after a strong start, the movie begins to falter badly as a personal drama.

In  the delightful scene in which Scott throws everyone out of the apartment and threatens to stab Harvey with a fork, Harvey promises that if he loses this 3rd election, he would call it quits. He breaks that promise and Scott leaves. But the whole thing is handled so callously that it doesn’t make any sense. You let the love of your life walk out the door without so much as a "keep in touch"? Furthermore by showing the Scott character no sympathy  at all, the script wastes the opportunity to really explore the universal plight of the campaigner’s partner who is simply worn out with it all. Then the movie really jumps the rails and never gets back on track with the introduction of  Diego Luna.  Let’s just say, all of that coloratura should have been left on the cutting room floor.

The film had a chance to redeem itself with the telephone call Harvey makes to Scott, but the dialogue is nearly unintelligible and Harvey never says the one thing that would make it work which would be something along the lines of  I never stopped loving you. Whatever happened to script doctors? Showing the reactions of Harvey’s friends to news of his death could have worked well. Also, at  the very end why don’t Scott and the campaign manager know anything about the candlelight vigil?

All in all, my verdict is yes and no. Penn is sure to get a nomination but the Oscar still goes to James Franco for Pineapple Express.