Gus Van Sant's new film Promised Land starring Matt Damon and Frances McDormand explores the controversial issue of coal gas seaming or 'fracking'. No, not a sexy topic but such an engaging film I was along for the ride from the start. 'Potent and powerful' says Rolling Stone, 'Intelligent, sincere, highly watchable' says Film Journal International. I can only agree and then some.
Oscar-nominated director Gus Van Sant and his Good Will Hunting screenwriter/star, Matt Damon can't help but take a well deserved dig at big companies prepared to go to new lows for high returns. However, what gives this film depth is the humour, sentiment and hard nosed realism applied in equal parts to the story of modern day farming communities and their vulnerability to offers of big money with potentially dire consequences.
Damon stars as Steve Butler, a corporate salesman for a large energy company, paid well to woo poor farmers into signing over their land for the fracking process, with promises of massive returns. Arriving with his colleague (a fantastic Frances McDormand) in a small town to convince the locals of the benefits of coal seam gas exploration, Butler is forced to examine his motives and his own family's history of living off the land when he faces unexpected resistance from an elderly farmer (Hal Holbrook), an activist (co-screenwriter John Krasinski) and elected officials. An unexpected twist in the tale and a nicely crafted love interest (Rosemarie DeWitt) in the mix -what more could you ask for? Go and see it.