It’s hard to tell how much of the film’s power comes from its production and how much from the underlying historical events it portrays. Not in question, however, is the virtuosity of Sean Penn’s performance: the distance of Harvey Milk from the world of Mystic River adds to Penn’s credentials as the greatest actor of his generation. I liked the other actors, too, although the attention to Josh Brolin’s Dan White slightly mystifies. I found the narrative thread a bit messy, a result of the film’s having to follow real-life events rather than a screenwriter’s imagination. And maybe for that reason, at film’s end I, like others I’ve heard from, was curious to watch the documentary that preceded this.
A character study – no more, no less – of a high-energy, happy-go-lucky 30-year-old who is putting off adulthood for no bad reason. Her goofy intensity, or intense goofiness, can rub people the wrong way or be endearing: characters in the film showed both reactions and I shared them. At the end, however, I was convinced I had met a real person, and I credit Mike Leigh and Sally Hawkins for the endeavor.
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