Director Gus Van Sant has once again teamed up with Matt Damon in a contemporary drama that focuses on the practice of hydraulic drilling technology, ‘fracking’. The energy industries use this technology to extract natural gas, and oil that lies thousands of feet beneath the surface. Written by Matt Damon , John Krasinski and Dave Eggers the movie sheds light on the process and its impact on the environment and people.
Like the snake oil salesmen of the old west, Steve Butler (Matt Damon) and his road worn partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) travels from town to town in America preying on people, who during these economic times are desperate to believer their message of riches. Riches it seems that lie just beneath the surface of the landowners’ property.
Matt Damon is brilliant as he gains the landowner’s trust by telling them that he grew up on a farm and it could have been saved if this miracle technology had been available to his family. Yet, Damon subtly reveals the struggle and conflict within his character as he continuously protests, ‘I am not a bad guy.’
However, this time around the successful team finds opposition in the town in the form of a retired schoolteacher, Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook) along with John Krasinski as Dustin Noble the naive do-gooder environmentalist, who arrives in town with his own version of snake oil.
‘Promised Land’ is an indictment of the many layers that are contributing to the destruction of the farming industry in America. From corrupt politicians that pave the way for drilling, to people who in hard times are desperate to believe in miracles, to the energy industry that allows people to suffer for their gain of profits.
This is a must see movie that is thought provoking and moving, ‘Promised Land’ is the newest version of the Latin warning, ‘Caveat Emptor’ (Let the buyer beware). And we should all take heed.