Milk (2008) Movie Review: Honoring an Activist

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Spoiler alert: This movie is not about a dairy product.

A recent trend in the entertainment world is the inclusion of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) characters in television and film. Will & Grace changed the face of television, and might even have a reboot soon! Major figures in the LGBT community include Chris Colfer from Glee and Ellen DeGeneres. This film is about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to a major political office. Gus Van Sant brilliantly directs this Oscar-winning film to reveal that minority figures really do add “color” (pun intended) to the vast majority of society as a whole.

A Toast

This film features a brilliant Oscar-winning screenplay from the openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Black was able to take a controversial topic and made it appeal to a wide audience. Sean Penn is probably at his best as the eponymous Harvey Milk because of his ability to become that figure while respecting both the straight and gay communities. Penn not only looked like Harvey Milk physically, but he also honored Milk’s legacy by essentially transforming himself into that person, and inspired viewers who saw his Oscar-winning performance. Josh Brolin also did well in his supporting role as Dan White, but he obviously could not compete against Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) that year. This film is not just about the gay community because it actually celebrates all people regardless of their sexual orientation.


Diversity classifies today’s world. There are different races, ethnicities, and characteristics that make up the world today. This film might have taken place in 1978, but the impact of its subject matter still resonates with audiences many decades after those historic events took place. Harvey Milk himself might no longer be with us, but his courage and determination have paved the way to the acceptance of people no matter what traits attempt to define them. Milk is much more than just a history lesson because it is about social change that came about from people challenging the status quo. The fact that radicals revolutionized reality made the world what it is today.

Milk (2008) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Harvey Milk gives speeches on the soap box.

Take a Drink: whenever there are rainbow flags that appear on-screen

Drink a Shot: for every reference to homosexuality, and cheers to those who honor that community!

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!