Promised Land – New Film

Gus Van Sant’s new film, “Promised Land,” with a screenplay by Matt Damon and Jon Krasinski, who co-star in the film, is obviously a labor of love on the part of all concerned, and I found it interesting to watch, but also a bit didactic. 

The theater tonight (Wednesday night) was pretty empty, so I suspect that despite the good reviews this one is not doing very well at the box office.  But it deserves to do better. 

They are sounding the alarm about a very important policy question, one that is now front and center here in New York State.  “Fracking” to release natural gas resources is helping to make the US move sharply towards energy independence, but at what cost?  Is the technology really safe enough?  Can one rely on the representations of the industry? 

This film rigs things in a few ways.  Casting a favorite old-timer like Hal Holbrook to raise the tough questions….  Depicting the energy company as a duplicitous, manipulating juggernaut….   And I won’t give away the ending, but I felt a bit manipulated.  On the other hand, they are raising very legitimate questions here that deserve careful study.

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