Harvey Milk was the first openly gay official to take major office in the US - proving that persistence was crucial in the dog-eat-dog world of politics by running for office three times, until he eventually won the role of city supervisor of San Francisco in 1977. Gus Van Sant paints his film with broad, engaging strokes, introducing people to Milk as he bumps into future lover Scott Smith (Franco) on the New York subway. He's self-effacing, charming and personable, qualities that make him almost instantly likeable. The relationship between Milk and Smith is really the nucleus of the film, and Van Sant is a smart enough director to realise this. The bond between the two exudes a genuine intimacy that is lacking in the vast majority of romance-tinted productions nowadays. To convey the essence of a character by watching a movie based on their life is the factor that every filmmaker aspires to when they undertake a film of this sort, and Van Sant and Penn achieve this superbly. You won't need to know a lot about the gay icon to enjoy the film, quite the opposite: you may just find yourself Googling major players soon after the credits roll, as there is only so much that can be squeezed into a couple of hours.