Promised Land: Most Promises Kept—Movie

promisedlandposterMatt Damon star-wattage aside, “Promised Land” is really a quiet little movie. Written by Damon and co-star John Krasinski and directed by Damon’s “Good Will Hunting” director, Gus Van Sant, “Promised Land” pits fracking against farming.

Damon, a corporate salesman for a global corporation, and his partner, Sue (Frances McDormand),  are looking to increase corporate profits by offering to buy out local farms in exchange for drilling rights for the natural gas underneath the land …fracking.  Normally an easy sell for Damon’s character in other communities (off-screen), the sale becomes far more complicated when a school-teacher (Hal Holbrook) and environmentalist (John Krasinski) raise concerns about the fracking process and the resulting impact upon on the land.

What prevents “Promised Land” from becoming dogmatic one way or the other is that it raises some interesting questions about corporate and personal greed, especially when dying towns are involved.  Just how far will one go in the name of professional success? “Promised Land” is also blessed with some terrific acting. Damon is always a pleasurable, believable screen presence. McDormand and Holbrook are their usual great selves. They both have places to shine and shine they do. McDormand is especially good in her work with Damon and with Titus Welliver, a local shopkeeper and potential suitor. Rosemary DeWitt, as a local teacher, brings just the right touch of levity in her scenes with Damon and Krasinski.

“Promised Land” won’t knock your socks off, but it does get you thinking.  Film aside, it’s also fun to contemplate some of the “new” talent starting to take their place in Hollywood in terms of writing, producing and directing. George Clooney and Ben Affleck have already shown us what they can do. Brad Pitt has been the producer for many of his most recent movies. With “Promised Land,” Damon has gone back to his writing roots and Krasinski is solid in his first effort. To some extent they are all “8 Degrees of George Clooney,” which means they could all be working together in some form or another for years to come. And that is promising, indeed.

3 nuggets out of 4

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