Promised Land Movie Review

Hydraulic fracturing might not be the most compelling subject for a movie, but it provides a topical backdrop for this engaging drama about ethics. It also lets actor-screenwriter Damon reunite with his Good Will Hunting director Van Sant for another strikingly well-made movie centring around a handful of strong characters. And while we know what the filmmakers feel about this contentious issue, at least the script isn't heavy handed about it.

The story takes place in a rural New England town, where oil company workers Steve and Sue (Damon and McDormand) are trying to secure the leases needed to drill for natural gas. The farmers badly need the cash to keep in business, but a retired science teacher (Holbrook) voices concern about the potential dangers of "fracking". He's joined by environmental activist Dustin (Krasinski) to turn the town against Steve and Sue's multinational corporation. And Dustin even starts to meddle in a budding romance between Steve and local teacher Alice (DeWitt). 

The script is cleverly constructed to make us wonder who is telling the full truth. There are obviously risks associated with fracking, but have they been exaggerated by politically motivated campaigns? Damon plays Steve as a straight-arrow, a nice guy who genuinely believes that the process is safe. Meanwhile, Krasinski is a but more slippery as the grassroots voice of caution, and the terrific McDormand gets all the best lines.

Van Sant holds everything together expertly, shooting in an unhurried, confident style that captures both the raw beauty of the pastoral landscape and the earthy honesty of the townsfolk. So their economic turmoil and the hope the oil company offers create a genuine dilemma. Thankfully the film never descends into a full-on rant. Instead, the script takes a complex approach to both the big issue and the characters themselves. It may be a bit low key and slightly obvious, but it's a rare Hollywood movie that's simply designed to make us think.

Rich Cline

Comments

Promised Land Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2012

Advertisement

More Matt Damon

Interstellar Trailer

Cooper is a pilot and engineer with a huge ambition to save the world. With little discoveries left to be made on Earth and the...

What Do We Know About Christopher Nolan's Interstellar?

Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey made a surprise visit to the San Diego Comic-Con last week to unveil the full trailer for their new movie,...

Franchise King Dwayne Johnson In Talks To Star In Robert Ludlum Adaptation For Universal

Dwayne Johnson might have a new creative endeavor lined up, as the former WWE champ and current actor is in talks to star in the...

Interstellar Trailer

With the Earth facing a bleak future, pilot and engineer Cooper wants to know how it can possibly be saved from its inevitable demise. The...

Advertisement

Matt Damon Open To More 'Bourne' Movies: Will He Team Up With Jeremy Renner?

Matt Damon has revealed that not only would he be happy to reprise his career-defining role of Jason Bourne in the butt-kicking, Bond-esque blockbusters but...

HBO To Revive 'Project Greenlight' With Matt Damon And Ben Affleck Returning

Project Greenlight is to be revived for another series with original stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon at the helm. The reality TV series saw...

Johnny Depp Promotes 'Transcendence', But Attention Turns to 'Black Mass'

Johnny Depp has begun his promotional tour for his new science fiction thriller Transcendance, which opens on April 18. However, journalists appear to be more...

50 Cent And Bette Midler? Our Favorite Celebrity BFFs

Unlike Jennifer Lawrence and her rather normal best friend, Laura Simpson, celebs often pick other famous people to have as their BFFs. They all probably...

Advertisement