Starring: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Feeling like going a little “Green” for the new year? Then run into your local cinema and see a flick.
No. The film I’m suggesting is not a documentary, but the feature Promised Land. This is a good film and an important film that I promise gives you a reason to get out and burn a little oil.
Okay, maybe several reasons. Matt Damon and John Krasinski both starred in and adapted this Dave Eggers story. It was originally to be Damon’s directorial debut, yet given to Gus Van Sant (director of Good Will Hunting) for whom Damon no doubt trusts with his words.
Promised Land is about what happens when we allow big corporations to sweep in and offer us money to literally destroy the ground beneath our feet. The anti-hydrofracturing or “fracking” drama is well done, covering the topic quite admirably (for those who may not know about the method of extracting natural gas from deep subterranean rock) with interesting writing, entertaining characters and a beautiful landscape… and look hard enough you’ll even find a love story in play.
Steve Butler (Damon) works for the power company that's offering money to poor families of a hard hit rural area to put natural gas wells on their land. He continually claims that he’s “not a bad guy”, especially to love interest, Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt). You may not be a bad guy, Steve, but what you’re doing, no matter how you slice it, is a bad thing, hence, you are a bad guy. It takes a professor, played gracefully by Hal Holbrook, to make him realize that he needs to make a decision as to which side of the fence he stands. Being from a small town himself, Steve puts himself in the shoes of the people he is offering millions to, and tries to imagine which might be more important; Money or water to drink so that he might live to spend his money.
He also crosses paths with environmentalist Dustin (Krasinski) who makes his job and decision making harder.
Whether you will simply enjoy the film or delight in the lesson you’re being taught will most likely depend on your mood when you’re in the theatre, but I was happy to hear scattered applause at the screening I went to, for it surely means that this vital topic would be the dinner table conversation of more than a few households in the near future.
However, in typical Hollywood fashion, the subject is only taken so far, so it’s up to you to do as suggested in the film, if you’re not sure what “fracking” is all about… “Google It”.