We really didn't know anything about the real story of Harvey Milk, except enough to ruin the end of the movie. He gets assassinated. That was really unfortunate information to carry into a film because we are horrible at guessing endings, but that is the burden you bear watching a film grounded in an historical context.
Anyway, onto the film.
Sean Penn was amazing. We had the added benefit of seeing the movie after his Oscar acceptance speech, but seriously, he did a phenomenal job. He totally slipped into a character for the film, and one that he was not born to play. He's just that good. Even at the end of the movie, when they show the real Harvey Milk, it's startling how much Penn resembles him both physically and in his mannerisms.
It was also a very moving film. In parts. We found ourselves getting a little teary eyed while Milk rallied the citizens of The Castro to protect their inalienable rights. It would have been such a powerful feeling to have even filmed those scenes, let alone to have lived it.
However, the movie didn't do as much for as a whole as we thought it would. Don't get us wrong, it was well done, but the hype building it up as the next greatest movie ever didn't pan out so much. Perhaps we received reviews from a biased (read: gay) audience, but it was much less Vitamin D Milk and a little more 2%.
It was like Strawberry Quik. Still better tasting than your average milk, but it's not our favorite flavor.