Movie Review: 'Promised Land' -- 3 stars
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand Rated R
Opens Dec. 28
The effects of the dour economy are most deeply felt in rural America, where the struggles of the manufacturing and farm sectors have left a plethora of dying communities and lingering uncertainty.
"Promised Land," from director Gus Van Sant, taps into that unease. Written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, it's an old-fashioned Frank Capra-esque portrait of a natural gas salesman, Steve (Damon), who has a crisis of conscience after arriving in a small Pennsylvania town to convince its residents to permit fracking on their properties.
Fracking, a lucrative but controversial method of extracting natural gas by fracturing rocks, is a loaded subject, of course, and the movie has faced plenty of advance criticism from the energy industry. But this isn't your everyday agenda-driven story of industrial villains and green-minded heroes.
The movie takes great pains to show you Steve's perspective - that he's bringing economic relief to a region that needs it - and it's more about the ethical dilemma facing him and the town than easy answers to tricky questions.
"Promised Land" thoughtfully considers where we are and where we're headed.