Promised LandFeature Film |
A solid script undone by force-fed morality.
If it's true that a film is only as good as its ending, then Gus Van Sant's latest effort completely misses the mark. But ignoring Promised Land's high points would be unfair; co-written by stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski from a story by Dave Eggers, the character-driven script is full of lovely and subtle moments as it follows Steve Butler (Damon), a corporate natural gas representative matching wits with a spunky environmentalist (Krasinski) while trying to convince small-town folks of the benefits of "fracking" in their dwindling farming community. Knowing perfectly well where Damon sits on this controversial issue, it's refreshing to see the film unfold with consideration for both sides.
Unfortunately, any hint of subtlety crumbles away with a final-act revelation guaranteed to stop all unbiased conversation dead in its tracks. Those who enter the theater already following the film's moral compass will walk out unshaken, and those less keen on Damon's political stance will have one more reason to dismiss all of cinema as the work of the "liberal Hollywood agenda." The performances are nuanced (Damon, Krasinski, and Frances McDormand all do great work here) and the filmmaking itself is top-notch -- but with a project rooted in political controversy, nothing is accomplished by pandering to one side.
|Promised Land trailer|