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Promised Land


Stars: Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Titus Welliver, Tim Guinee, Joe Coyle, Sarah Lindsey, Lucas Black

Director: Gus Van Sant

A meandering environmental drama, centring on two employees (Damon, McDormand) from mega development company Global, who come to a smallish farming community to persuade (sometimes with the aid of a 'sweetener') local landowners to allow Global to drill, by the controversial 'fracking' process, for natural gas beneath the earth.

Things don't go as smoothly as planned; there's stiff opposition from local science teacher and retired top boffin Holbrook. But the real thorn in the intruders' sides comes with the arrival of a campaigning environmentalist (Krasinski) who proceeds to make their life hell - besides dating the local teacher (DeWitt) whom Damon vaguely had his eye on.

The scenery is lushly green here (although it might look even better in widescreen), and the acting decent - especially DeWitt, and Welliver as the local storeman who sells 'guns, groceries, guitars and gas', while Damon and McDormand play as well together as the script (co-written by Damon and Krasinski) will allow.

But the story just dawdles on, coming to the conclusion we more or less expect, although a twist at the end is more than welcome. Alas, the whole thing lacks impact, with many of its story threads leading nowhere in particular. In the acting stakes, a rather subdued Damon, in a role that decades ago would have suited James Stewart, is rather outshone by his co-writer and co-star.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
106 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 15 Apr 2013