I saw Milk last week and found it much better than I expected. I went prepared to be disappointed. I mean, I didn’t think it would be as atrocious as Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia, but I was girding myself for “film about gay men made for straight people”. Overall I was impressed and thought it struck a fairly good balance. Harvey was perhaps a little too saintly and there wasn’t anything like enough sex happening for the Castro in San Francisco in the 1970s, but the film didn’t shy away from the realities either. There was some sex and, perhaps more importantly, an appreciation of the fact that queer communities are built on sexual desire. I liked the way it didn’t pretend that gay men and lesbians have always found common ground either; the scene in which Harvey introduces his new lesbian campaign manager to his horrified team is just lovely. Everyone’s good in it and Sean Penn is marvellous (not acting with his hair for once).
I learned a lot because Harvey Milk’s story just isn’t as well known in the UK as it is in the States. I had no idea he was so important. I watched it in a small cinema packed with LGBT people and there was much sniffing at the end when the film cut to the documentary footage of the candlelit march in San Francisco after he died.
The only downside to the evening is my suspicion that I caught the “flu-like bug” while having drinks with people afterwards.