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Promised Land by Gus Van Sant

April 7, 2013


After the successful intermezzo represented by Restless, Promised Land is a return to familiar themes for Gus Van Sant: a study of America, its people, its contradictions. Being both the hero and the villain of the film Steve Butler (Matt Damon) impersonates the contradiction at play here, who is he? a friend of rural America who wants to help an economically struggling community or the falsely friendly face of a corporate giant whose only interest is to exploit the land even at the risk of destroying the environment where the struggling community lives?

The issue at stake in the film is called fracking, an issue that before the film hit the theaters has received a lot of attention thanks to journalism and a documentary feature, alas Promised Land cannot compete with those media on the informative side and it fails to fulfill its promise on the human and social perspectives, Van Sant has directed with good rhythm and an expert hand the screenplay by Damon and John Krasinski, but the script plays too many clichés and even the coup de théâtre at the end of the movie is nothing more than an hanging breaking ball at the center of the strike zone: an alert spectator will see it coming. The real issue the film had within its reach but failed to grab and develop is mentioned by its main character: “our lifestyle needs power, so we need to exploit oil, coal and gas”, and I would add that even eco-friendly films like Promised Land – with its 15 millions budget – aren’t good for the environment, do we intend – and are we willing – to do something about it?

One Comment
  1. Darby permalink

    I normally do not leave comments but thought I would being I am from Lafayette Louisiana. I wish a little more investigating would have been done concerning our town … Two things noticed … 70804 zip code is Baton Rouge, not Lafayette and since when do we have lighthouses in Lafayette even Louisiana for that matter!!!!!! Have you ever been to Louisiana ? Airboats yes , lighthouses I think not !!!!

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