Doesn't really look like Sean Penn or Harvey Milk. Maybe it lands somewhere between them both.
The film is a great recreation of a person and a moment. Both remain wholly relevant in excruciating ways. The documentary footage was moving - from the opening scenes of gay men clandestinely gathering in bars and hang outs in the '50s and '60s through to news footage from the '70s. As a whole, it was a very specific celebration of being alive, present, and someone doing something with their life after forty. At the end of the film there were images of the actors and then the people they played - young, idealistic and alive. Excepting one instance, this was profoundly joyous and celebratory.
A. O. Scott, describing one scene in the NYT:
Everything is happening here — votes are tallied, hearts broken, lives risked and saved, tactical decisions made, emotions expressed and suppressed — but only one thing is happening. What makes all of this cohere is art, and history. This is how change happens. This is what it looks like.
This is exactly right, and ties this film to the one I wrote about yesterday.