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Promised Land - Film Review

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by Djuna (subscribe)
I've written about London, Brighton, Horsham, Amsterdam, Bruges and Cologne... now it's time to write about Perth! Visit my Uni Exchange blog at www.aforeigneducationwordpress.com
Published May 1st 2013
What is your price?
Promised Land, Gus Van Sant's latest feature, is one film you should not miss. Aside from the modestly beautiful aesthetic of the film and the significance of the themes, Matt Damon and John Krasinski's contributions, both on and off the screen, are worth the price of a ticket. Damon and Krasinki wrote the script for Promised Land and star as the salesman trying to buy land from a small American town, and the environmentalist trying to stop him, respectively.

Promised land, film, America, gas tracking
Matt Damon wrote and starred in Promised Land

With Sue (Frances McDormand) in tow, Steve (Damon) arrives in the town and, on behalf of gas fracking conglomerates Global, tries to convince the residents in the struggling town to lease their farms with the promise that they will make big money out of it. It seems an easy proposition for the experienced sales team until Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook) speaks up at a town meeting and suggests that fracking might not be the easy escape from financial difficulty that the town thinks it will be; that there are many potential risks involved that may not be worth the gamble.

It is easy to see both sides of the argument- Global appear to be offering a mutually beneficial investment for people who need it, but stories start to emerge about farms that has been bought and destroyed by the fracking process and is now unusable for future generations; about animals that have been poisoned by the toxins released; about actual profits not coming close to the figures quoted. But what is most humiliating for the townspeople is that Global are exploiting their situation and are accustomed to farmers who have worked on their land for generations to sell out without so much as questioning what they are selling out to. As soon as people begin to challenge the sustainability of the fracking practice, Global's tactics become pretty low and even Steve begins to wonder if what they are doing is really as profitable for the town as it is for his employer.

Promised Land has a charm that is unpredictable and inspiring; never once does it force its themes upon the audience, and the issues are contested in a diplomatic and rational way. This is certainly no David vs Goliath battle because the big business is given two very human faces in Damon and McDormand. I left Luna Palace feeling like I was part of something big that's going on, and I really believe that everyone should watch this film, because it will either challenge or reinforce your views about resource mining in a way that is very necessary in today's conflicted climate. Promised Land will have you asking yourself what your price is.
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When: Now showing
Where: In selected cinemas
Cost: Check with local cinema
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