Promised Land tells the story of a team (Matt Damon and Frances McDormand) who work for a natural gas company and their job is to go into small towns and lease land from the residents to build drilling stations to get the gas out. Damon’s character is supposedly the best in the company and they send him in to close a small country town quickly.
If someone came to my door and told me that my house was sitting on a deposit of some lucrative natural resource I would probably take the cash, mostly because I’m a selfish rube. Some of the characters in Promised Land do, in fact, take the money without asking questions, but the drama comes from the residents who ask the questions and the resulting “environmental presence” that comes with that.
The script comes from Matt Damon and John Krasinski (who also stars) from a story by Dave Eggers, which is an interesting team, but each brings their own take to the story and it blends together naturally. This is to say that there are scenes in the movie that stand out from others and were obviously from a certain writer and they were able to weave them into each other in a way that wasn’t distracting. All three of them have written screenplays before so there’s no learning curve awkwardness and they manage to deliver a solid story that will surely be nominated for some type of honor.
Gus Van Sant feels at home behind the camera, but it always felt like an odd choice to me for him to direct this movie. He’s no stranger to dramas, however, Promised Land doesn’t pack the emotional punch as Good Will Hunting or Milk did. This movie deals more with the situation and how the characters deal with it than the characters involved. There’s a little twisty twist at the end that I honestly didn’t see coming, but when it happened I almost felt cheated, I invested myself emotionally in these characters and then they ended up not being who I thought initially and I felt it took away from the humanity of the movie.
All that being said, I did love the relationships between all the characters, especially between Matt Damon’s character and his love interest played Rosemarie DeWitt. The way they acted with one another felt very human and heartfelt.
Promised Land is an enjoyable movie, but it doesn’t pose any earth shattering, soul-searching positions like some other similar movies.
7 out of 11
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About the movie:
Promised Land is a 2012 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, and John Krasinski. The screenplay is written by Damon and Krasinski based on a story by Dave Eggers.
Promised Land follows two corporate salespeople Steve Butler and his sales partner Sue Thomason as they visit a rural town to buy drilling rights from local residents who seek relief after the recent economic decline. They encounter resistance from a schoolteacher, who is supported by a grassroots campaign organized by another man who seeks to rival Butler.
The film had a limited release in the United States on December 28, 2012 and will follow with a nationwide expansion on January 4, 2013.