I am a straight male in my early 30s, and I confess that I didn't know who Harvey Milk was before watching this film. I am into a wide variety of film genres (as my review history reflects), and picked this movie up not knowing what to expect, but went for it on the strength of the (deserved) critical praise is has received. In short, it is one of the best films I have seen in a long time.
Sean Penn gives a deservedly acclaimed performance as Milk, a charismatic, entertaining individual. The supporting cast - none of whom I personally was familiar with - also put in excellent performances.
Without meaning to brush over the important work and advancements Milk made on behalf of the LGBT community, this is a story that appeals far beyond the gay community, and a classic story about standing up for the downtrodden.
The film runs at two hours; in some movies, I find this a bit long and my attention starts to wander, but in the case of 'Milk' I found it the perfect length; it needs the full two hours to tell the story, and I can honestly say I did not feel it to sag at any point.
It's hard to accurately class this film - for its most part, it is a drama-biography, but it also has some nice moments of comedy, and is also very touching at points.
There is little I can find to gripe about with this movie. I did find that Harvey met the two big loves of the story (first the charming Scott, later the demanding Jack) and fell in love with (and was in bed with) barely after meeting them; I did wonder if this was tweaked to suit that pacing of the film.
Some have commented that they felt the film concentrates on Harvey's love life too much, neglecting further detailing of his political career. I personally did not feel this at all - I found both elements to be well balanced, and think it was important to give an overview of Milk's whole life, not just political, to get a more rounded view of him.
Regarding the DVD release, extras are three deleted (and pretty inconsequential) deleted scenes, a 15 minute documentary looking profiling Harvey Milk, a 13 minute making of featurette, and a third looking at the recreation of the candlelight vigil (but which also strays into other areas). There are also international and UK versions of the film's trailer. Ordinarily I like to see an audio commentary on DVD releases, but maybe it was felt this film didn't need one.
All-in-all, this is a really enjoyable movie. You don't have to have gay interests to become engrossed in it, and I am glad that it is bringing the tale of Harvey Milk to a new generation, including myself. And at under a fiver, you can't go wrong. Highly recommended.