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Movie review: 'Promised Land'

Matt Damon reteams with his “Good Will Hunting” director Gus Van Sant for “Promised Land,” a movie that tackles a tough energy-vs.-environment issue but winds up becoming an optimistic story of conscientious citizenship vs. corporate greed reminiscent of classic Frank Capra.
BY GENE TRIPLETT etriplett@opubco.com Published: January 4, 2013

Butler even finds himself competing with Noble for the affections of another local schoolteacher, Alice (an easygoingly charismatic Rosemarie DeWitt), an intelligent and good-natured woman who has roots in the town, and after time in the big city has returned to the property her family nurtured for years. Butler is intending to pitch the drilling rights offer to her as well, but pulls back as circumstances — and his own experience living in a small town that had its fortunes altered by big business — begin to persuade him that he's been selling everyone a bill of goods.

One of the most interesting character relationships in the film is that of Butler and Thomason. She's a single mother just trying to support a young son with whom she's obviously very close, constantly Skyping with him and encouraging his efforts as a Little League Baseball player. She's also like a big sister — albeit a competitive one — to Butler, but she's all about their corporate mission, and at odds with him when his conscience begins to jeopardize their chances at landing those drilling rights for the $9 billion company for which they work, a firm that's just bestowed a big promotion on Butler.

Krasinski — who developed the original story idea — and Damon have written a solid script loaded with fully realized characters to whom any audience can relate. And the story's basic message — about a society that still allows open-minded debate over grave issues — is well worth considering.

— Gene Triplett