Opening in theatres this Friday from director Gus Van Sant and Focus Features comes a film about big company’s and small towns with PROMISED LAND.
This film tells the story of Steve Butler (Matt Damon), a salesman who works for a natural gas company. Along with his partner Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), they come into this small town that is going through hard times to present an offer.
Underneath many of the property owner’s homes is natural gas and Butler offers these families money for drilling rights. This money would save many of the families from going under. Right before the town folks agree to this, schoolteacher Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook) convinces the townspeople to hold off until they better understand the process of fraking and what it will do to their home.
As the company kicks Steve and Sue into overdrive, another problem arises – environmentalist Dustin Noble (John Krasinski) tries to stop them at every turn. Butler begins to care for the people in this town and, for the first time, begins to question what he is doing – and why!
FINAL WORD: Damon plays this role very well. He has that boyish charm that makes it believable that he would be so engaging with people. That charm also blinds and binds him to a job that doesn’t always have the best interest of people at heart.
McDormand has a few tricks up her sleeve as Sue but I mainly enjoyed her interaction with Welliver as Rob the store owner. I truly wished they had taken that storyline someplace instead of just throwing it around with no real reason for it to be there.
Krasinski gets a chance here to play an interesting character. Equally as charming as Damon’s character it is a role that was perfect actually. Holbrook, although a small role, is powerful. It is a joy to see such a talent still taking roles that are meaningful.
Other cast include: Terry Kinny as David Churchill, Joe Coyle as Michael Downey, Dorothy Silver as Arlene, Jericho Morgan as Jericho, and Titus Welliver as Rob.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give PROMISED LAND three tubs of popcorn out of five. I wanted to give it more and was hoping that it would provide more but, honestly, it misses the chance to educate the public while telling a great story. The performances are find and the film has actually
Here’s what I was hoping for. In 2010, director Josh Fox made a documentary entitled GASLAND that really opened my eyes to what natural gas companies do in order to lease land from middle America and what fraking is. The effects in many cases are devastating to families and towns. This is what I was truly hoping that PROMISED LAND would do.
Instead it turns out to be a story focused on one man who truly should have known what he was doing for the company he worked for (I do find it hard to believe he was that oblivious) and having sellers remorse because he was falling for a small town school teacher.
The story was written by David Eggers and the screenplay was written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski. This was to be Damon’s directorial debut but time constrains only allowed him to act while bringing in Van Sant to direct.
In the end – what is your price?
For more information on films and television visit Movie Maven.