Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 281 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. (Focus Features) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Three decades ago, Milk and his ilk were able to enlist President Jimmy Carter and future President Ronald Reagan in the gay fight against Prop. 6. But this fall, Barack Obama was all but mute on Prop. 8. Some community organizers, like the President-elect, are more cautious than others. It's a shame Harvey Milk wasn't around to recruit him.
  2. Reviewed by: Perry Seibert
    Harvey Milk embodied the concept that "all politics is personal," and by presenting the famed Mayor of Castro Street's personal and public lives with such clarity and empathy, Van Sant has made something very rare in Hollywood -- a genuinely powerful political film that works equally well as a story of personal triumph.
  3. 100
    It's a total triumph, brimming with humor, heart, sexual heat, political provocation and a crying need to stir things up, just like Harvey did. If there's a better movie around this year, with more bristling purpose, I sure as hell haven't seen it.
  4. Whatever you think of gay people (or politicians), you may find the movie compelling viewing.
  5. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    How you feel about Milk may depend on whether you've seen Rob Epstein's great, Oscar-winning 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk." Van Sant's movie lacks that film's shattering emotional impact. (Rage is not a color in the director's palette.) For those coming to Milk's story for the first time, however, this will be a rousing experience.
  6. 75
    As good as it is depicting his career, Milk doesn't fare quite as well as a portrait of the man himself.
  7. The final result somehow undersells a man whose life and death were watershed moments in the gay rights movement.

See all 39 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 78 out of 103
  2. Negative: 17 out of 103
  1. Jan 1, 2012
    I love this movie. Sean Penn is an amazing lead and he was perfect for this role. I think the entire film is a real eye opener on how it really was during that time. I would highly recommend it. Expand
  2. Nov 17, 2012
    A very important American film, Milk is made great by Penn's extraordinary performance and the ingenuity of the script.
  3. Sep 1, 2014
    A triumph through and through. Milk views the life of one very important and unique individual who believed in the human right and happiness. Dustin Lance Black has written one of the finest screenplays in recent history. Matched with brilliant direction from Gus Van Sant and another Oscar-winning performance from Sean Penn, it's perfection. Expand
  4. Jul 28, 2012
    I absolutely loved "Milk". For quite a while now I have respected Harvey Milk deeply, and I'm very pleased with this film. The film is very nuanced in handling its characters, each character has positive and negative aspects to their personality, and nobody is handled as a complete angel or vice versa. I enjoy how they weren't reluctant in realistically portraying struggling gay relationships in a time when it wasn't considered acceptable and how they didn't water down the more homoerotic parts of the film to make it more "viewable" for a wide audience. The acting is flawless; Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch and others basically become their characters. Regardless of your personal political views regarding homosexuality, this film is enlightening, addicting, inspirational, thought-provoking and very well-made. Milk is one of the best biopics I've ever seen, and it left such an imprint on me that immediately after viewing I felt the urge to re-watch it. Expand
  5. Jan 2, 2013
    Overall, It's simply a good movie. Sean Penn is amazing and the rest of the cast is good as well. It has an interesting story that will touch a lot of people's hearts. I enjoyed it. Expand
  6. Nov 28, 2012
    Featuring an unforgettable performance from Sean Penn, excellent directorial work from Gus Van Sant, and a first-rate script by Dustin Lance Black, "Milk" proves itself to be heartwarming, provocative, and unafraid. Expand
  7. Aug 18, 2013
    A pathetic movie that was extremely boring with James Franco that gets on my nerves every time I see him on screen. A good attempt that failed miserably. Expand

See all 103 User Reviews