Sean Penn plays the title character of Harvey Milk in this film directed by Gus Van Sant. It's a very well done and interesting film, especially if you know very little about Milk himself. The first openly gay person elected to public office in the US he was killed (along with the mayor of San Francisco) by another city supervisor. I knew practically none of this at the time I walked in - but felt like I'd gotten a good sense of things by the time I walked out.
The film gives a portrayal of Milk that (positively) seems to have more shades of gray than many other biopics tend to have. All the performances are strong and the story if nothing else is an inspiring message of how much change one person can make, even if they haven't done much until they turn 40 (to paraphrase Milk summing up his life before moving to California). Gus Van Sant made a film that's seems to capture the era well - right down to the look of a film shot in the 70's.
Watching the film it's hard not to see the parallels with the recent proposition against gay marriage that won in California a few weeks ago. That adds an even more timely element to the film - though it would have been a good story to tell at any time. I've heard a lot of folks say Sean Penn will be up for an Oscar for his performance here. He definitely does throw himself fully and effectively into the performance. I can't say this was one of my favorite films of the year, but it definitely accomplishes what it sets out to do with a slew of strong performances throughout.