Promised Land takes on Natural Gas-Thoughts Anyone? PDF Print E-mail
Appalachian Culture - Appalachian Culture
Written by Kara Rogers Thomas   
Saturday, 05 January 2013 11:18

Promised Land

Promised Land is now showing at R/C Theatres Frostburg Cinema. Led by a star-studded cast featuring Matt Damon and including John Krasinski, Hal Holbrook, and Frances McDormand, the film hits close to home by taking on the natural gas industry. Given the mixed feelings about natural gas drilling in western Maryland, perhaps the Appalachian Independent can provide a public forum for reviewing and reacting to the issues addressed in the film. Please use our comment section to participate in this important conversation.


A description of the film from the website of FOCUS Features is provided below. Click on this link to view the trailer:

In Promised Land, Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler, a corporate salesman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he lands in a small town, where he grapples with a surprising array of both open hearts and closed doors. Gus Van Sant helms the film from an original screenplay written by John Krasinski & Matt Damon, from a story by Dave Eggers.

Steve has been dispatched to the rural town of McKinley with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand). The town has been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, and the two consummate sales executives see McKinley’s citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer – for drilling rights to their properties – as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job and a short stay for the duo becomes complicated – professionally by calls for community-wide consideration of the offer by respected schoolteacher Frank Yates (Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook) and personally by Steve’s encounter with Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt). When Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), a slick environmental activist, arrives, suddenly the stakes, both personal and professional, rise to the boiling point.

A Focus Features presentation in association with Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi of a Sunday Night, Pearl Street, Media Farm production. A Gus Van Sant Film. Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand. Promised Land. Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy, Titus Welliver, and Hal Holbrook. Casting by Francine Maisler, CSA. Music Supervisor, Brian Reitzell. Music by Danny Elfman. Costume Designer, Juliet Polcsa. Production Designer, Daniel B. Clancy. Editor, Billy Rich. Director of Photography, Linus Sandgren, FSF. Executive Producers, Gus Van Sant, Ron Schmidt, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King. Produced by Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Chris Moore. Story by Dave Eggers. Screenplay by John Krasinski & Matt Damon. Directed by Gus Van Sant. A Focus Features Release.

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 January 2013 11:20
Comments (3)
promised land
Jeff Davis
Saturday, 05 January 2013 13:00
Holding comments until I have seen the movie; the trailer looks good.
Rest assured, many comments to follow.
Promised Land
Kara RogersThomas
Sunday, 06 January 2013 10:13
First, I have to admit that I really like Hal Holbrook and wish he had more scenes in the film. I thought the dialogue that unfolded in his exchanges with Matt Damon really cut to the heart of the issues, particularly short term gain vs long term risk.

The small town depicted was pretty stereotypical and a tad idealistic for my taste; the diner and bar seemed rather lively for a dying town. And how often do small town populations actually come together for a town vote without it being part of a ballot measure? I've lived in a lot of small towns in my lifetime and the town in the film struck me as Hollywood's version of small town life. That version doesn't mesh well with my own experience.

But I thought the film did a decent enough job depicting the economic vs environmental argument--albeit those remained on a surface level. I rather disliked the Hollywood ending.

Overall, if I were a movie critic, I'd probably pan the film's storyline. However, the acting was solid and interest in the movie will no doubt increase awareness of the natural gas issue.

PS A former farm boy who doesn't know how to drive a stick shift? The film kind of lost me with those scenes.
Promised Land
Nadine Grabania
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 18:28
Wish I could say I've seen the film, but Garrett County residents are still waiting in hopes that the film will be shown locally at Garrett 8 Cinemas. Given the number of people in Garrett County who experienced predatory leasing practices similar to those depicted in this film, I hope the theater's management realizes the film's relevance to the local community.

For an interesting discussion of the films merits, here's a good post from The Allegheny Front:
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