Well, just look at what personal conviction can do for a filmmaker.

I did not realize until I watched this trailer for Milk, Gus Van Sant’s biopic of gay activist and elected official Harvey Milk, how deeply I’ve wanted to see Van Sant break out of his tightly restrained filmmaking.* His films have always had the uncanny ability to capture a certain essence of youth, but it’s a very internal energy that van Sant sees; that’s lead to a series of movies that seethe but rarely boil.

And now there’s Milk, the trailer for which suggests a movie we’ve never really seen from the man. One that is impassioned and lively, even when dire. It looks energetic and aware and, I imagine from these few scenes, empathetic as all hell. The trailer may hit all the beats from the biopic playbook, and yet it’s beautiful, especially for calling upon the end result of Milk’s efforts rather than his own tragic fate. This could be a great one.

See the trailer at Apple.

* I say this without yet having seen Paranoid Park, which may (or may not) break the pattern set with films like To Die For, Elephant and Gerry.